Paleonet: NHM Micropalaeontology

Norman MacLeod N.MacLeod at
Thu Jun 10 08:19:06 GMT 2010

I'm afraid the news is true. Owing to budget reductions approved by the NHM
Trustees some 40 posts across The Natural History Museum have been proposed
for redundancy. In the Palaeontology Department four posts are included in
this total, including the two micropalaeontology research posts. This
decision was based on an estimation of the ability of the current
micropalaeontology research programme to contribute to delivery of the NHMs
scientific research strategy. The other two posts are collections support
posts, one of which is scheduled to be replaced by a new curator post once
the UK government-mandated hiring freeze is lifted. Let me stress that there
is no intention for the NHM to diminish the extent of the
micropaleontological collections in its care or diminish the
management/development of those collections. Unlike the US the researchers
at the NHM have no formal responsibility for maintenance, care, and
development of the collections.

This was a difficult decision and I appreciate many in the palaeontological
community will be  concerned and upset by it. Rightly so. However, all NHM
science departments were required to offer posts to make up the anticipated
funding shortfall. In the NHM front-line services are considered to be
delivered by those posts directly associated with care and management of the
exhibitions and public visitors and with the care of the scientific
collections. Research programmes are very important to the Museum, but they
are not regarded as part of its essential core business. Effectively the
budget axe had to fall somewhere in the NHM Palaeontology Department and
this is where it fell. At the moment the institution is in a consultation
period during which we are actively exploring opportunities for redeployment
of the affected staff, either in the NHM or in the UK museum sector.

 I don't know how many PaleoNet subscribers are aware of the public finances
situation in the UK, but it is quite serious. The current round of
redundancies was required in order to meet a target of £2.3 million (c. 5%
of the operating budget). The discussions going on in the UK government
suggest that public sector cuts of as much as 20% over the next five years
are being contemplated. The next few years are going to be neither easy nor
a pleasant for any UK museum or indeed any institution in the UK public

I'm very sorry to have to bring this news to PaleoNet. The decision as to
what to offer up for cuts in the NHM Palaeontology Department was mine and I
take full responsibility for it. I hope I will not be asked to make any
further cuts in the Department. I fear I probably will be so asked to do so
though the senior management of the NHM is doing all it can to avoid any
further damage to any Museum programme.

I imagine this will generate a bit of discussion on the list. So it should.
I will, however, not participate further in any discussions that follow. I'm
happy to take e-mails and requests for information from anyone, but will do
those off the list.


Norm MacLeod

On 10/6/10 08:35, "Jorijntje Henderiks" <jorijntje.henderiks at>

> Dear community,
> Could anyone fill me in about the proposed closure of the Natural History
> Museum's Micropalaeontology Research Group? Highly disturbing news!
> Best regards,
> Jorijntje 
> ___
> Jorijntje Henderiks
> Associate Professor, Royal Swedish Academy Research Fellow
> Uppsala University
> Department of Earth Sciences
> Paleobiology Program
> Villavägen 16
> SE-75 236 Uppsala Sweden
> _______________________________________________
> Paleonet mailing list
> Paleonet at


Prof. Norman MacLeod
Keeper of Palaeontology
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD

(0)207 942-5204 (Office)
(0)207 942-5546 (Fax) (Web Page)


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