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The environment is a thread that runs through all of our contemporary collecting work.

We collect a range of material to document the changing environment and responses to it. For example, specimens, such as stranded whales, are collected and analysed to reveal important evidence of the impact of human activities on different species. By doing this cutting-edge research, our teams are uncovering hugely significant understandings of our activities are affecting the natural world and contributing to efforts to combat these.

We also collect cultural responses to environmental change, from protest art created by children to examples of renewable technologies to artistic works documenting the impact of fossil fuels.

The work of collecting environmental change is very different across different areas. Together, the objects we collect document this important aspect of contemporary life from a range of perspectives. Our collections are strong precisely because of the varied and interdisciplinary nature of this work.

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Collecting marine mammals

Our natural sciences collection includes an internationally significant collection of marine mammals. Curatorial Preparator Georg Hantke explores how that collection continues to grow and how it informs new understanding of the whales, dolphins and porpoises found around the coasts of Scotland.

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: repurposing plastic waste

Where does our plastic go? Dr Ali Clark considers how artworks by Oceanic artists made from recycled plastics present local solutions to a global problem.

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An elegantly simple solar energy solution

Curator Ellie Swinbank met Dr Faisal Ghani of Heriot-Watt University to accept his generous donation of a flat-pack solar energy collector for our collections.

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Craft, landscape and climate change

Discover a maker who works in wood, who is led by principles of sustainability, and whose skill is rooted in a deep appreciation for Scotland’s hills.

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An emperor's eggstraordinary egg

A new acquisition highlighting the way our collections continue to document the impact of rapid environmental change.

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Artistic expressions of today: Climate change

Over the last year, we have acquired several artefacts that discuss how the impact of the pandemic and wider socio-political subjects have inspired the creation of some remarkable works of art, craft and design that reflect these times.

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Time flies for an entomologist

Fieldwork is a vital element of our work, enabling us to develop our collections. Assistant Curator of Entomology, Ashleigh Whiffin, joined a team of entomologists in the Natural Park of Sierras de Cazorla in Spain to do just that.

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