ABSTRACT: Core functions of museums are the collection, long-term preservation, stewardship and curation of specimens, facilitating access to these specimens – physically and digitally – for research purposes, and engaging and educating the public about the world around them. Biological and geological specimens from the Arctic and their associated collection data are a diverse, important and increasingly valuable component of the polar information spectrum. Natural history specimens are data themselves, documenting the distribution of species in time and space; they serve as vouchers for datasets, allowing future workers to go back to original material to confirm or revise identifications; and they are also sources of new data (morphology, anatomy, toxicology, genetic information). The development of international standards (e.g., the Darwin Core) and best practices to facilitate interoperability and sharing of biodiversity occurrence data has allowed
institutions to easily share their collection data on their own websites, and through national, regional and international indexing portals such as the Global Biodiversity
Information Facility (GBIF). This successful example of data management and interoperability could serve as a model for the polar community. The research and public
outreach potential of Arctic collections data is enormous, but a challenge that many natural history museums are facing is the massive task of databasing and imaging the collection so that it may be mobilized, discovered, shared and used. The Canadian Museum of Nature, founding member of the international Arctic Natural History Museums Alliance, houses the largest – and continually growing – collection of natural
history specimens from the Canadian Arctic, with ca. 260K Arctic specimens (including >550 type specimens). Some 154K of our specimens from north of 60 degrees are digitized and freely accessible online (http://collections.nature.ca/en/Search) and shared through GBIF. Natural history museums need to be more involved in Arctic science discussions to raise awareness and increase usage of their rich data resources.
Available from: https://ccin.ca/home/sites/default/files/PDF_II_Program_Abstracts_FINAL.pdf (accessed 4 May 2016).
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