“Museums are an endangered species”

TV’s wildlife broadcaster, Ben Garrod, calls for support for the sector

In his recent online wildlife talk for Wessex Museums, Professor Ben Garrod called for support for the cultural sector, saying the current situation has made museums “a critically endangered species”.

Ben is an evolutionary biologist and broadcaster, and presenter of shows such as ‘Baby Chimp Rescue’ on BBC Two and ‘Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur’ on BBC One.

His popularity with families and young people led Wessex Museums to invite him to deliver the keynote speech for our series of online talks based on the Wildlife in the Red exhibition

During his talk, Ben pointed out the importance of natural history collections in museums for engagement, education and research.

‘Museums are world-leading scientific and cultural hubs, embedded within our community, but like so many of the specimens they house, the museum sector is a critically endangered species right now. We need to do all we can to ensure they not only survive but thrive in the future. In the same way we cannot survive in a world with no trees, maybe our cultural survival similarly depends on museums.”

Ben, who is also a science professor at the University of East Anglia, added: “Museums are places where nostalgia meets cutting edge science, where the stories of long-dead specimens come alive with possibility. They’re some of our most familiar settings but are crammed with the unknown. It’s this many-faceted personality which makes museums, and their devoted keepers, so special and so invaluable.”

Chairing the talk was Dr Anjana Khatwa, Engagement Lead for Wessex Museums, who’s role is to help the museums reach new and diverse audiences. She said:

“COVID-19 has created a crisis in the museum sector, and we need the support of influential voices like Ben Garrod. During these difficult times, Wessex Museums is looking at innovative ways to engage audiences, so the online talks feature some of the most inspiring speakers from the conservation world talking about objects from our own natural history collections.

“This includes 17-year-old conservationist, Arjun Dutta, who’s passion, knowledge and commitment is helping make conservation ‘cool’ for young people. This a must-see event for any young person interested in becoming a champion for nature, but it will also showcase the work of the museums to a new and younger audience.”

You can book on our online talks here.



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