In Europe, training offer in conservation and care of Natural History collections definitely exists but the information is relatively hard to find and fragmented, especially for the non-academic courses. In recent years, thanks to associations and initiatives such as e.g. SYNTHESYS, NatSCA, SPNHC, GfBS, Collections Trust, ICON new courses are regularly organised. However, there is no cohesive curriculum or programme that would allow collections professionals to easily identify the training resources they need to reach a given level of competency.
Courses are mainly organised on a regular basis or in the framework of a special occasion so that the offer is likely to meet the demand at least for the covered topics. Large part of the training courses are short intensive courses that last for a couple of hours, one day or less than 1 week. They are easily accessible training courses because of time and budget resources. Moreover, the largest part of the courses is open to an international public.
Most of the training is held in English and some of the courses are given in different languages depending on the audience. A significant fraction of the training is specifically organised in English even if it is not the language of the host country.
Large part of the training is held at a non-academic level. Natural History Museums/Botanical Gardens hold a great expertise in conservation and care of Natural History collections. As such Museums/Botanical Gardens and associations/foundations linked with museums such as e.g. NatSCA, SPNHC, GfBS contribute for a large part to Natural History focused conservation training whether or not in collaboration with networks or academics. Courses at an academic level have a more Cultural Heritage focus but some of them have as an optional module ‘Natural Sciences curatorship’.
Very few courses are developed for a large public or amateurs but target technicians and collections professionals. Education at an academic level is for a broad oriented audience in Cultural Heritage at undergraduate level. Some of the courses at a master or postgraduate level give flexible access to a range of topics to people showing a certain knowledge degree and are especially for professional development and are open to non-enrolled ‘students’.
The teaching approach is very classic as most of the training courses include classroom lectures and hands-on training. E-learning is not often used. The majority of the training courses use education material as a support to the courses. Power point presentations and demonstration material are the preferred teaching tools. Access to this material is in most cases privileged to those people attending the training.