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The National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, announces the third session of a six-week training program in the management, preservation and use of natural history collections for professionals working in Latin American and Caribbean countries. This program is made possible through the generous support of the Inter-American Development Bank and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The program will take place at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., from February 16 to March 31, 2010.

Program DescriptionBird_Division

Created to strengthen technical and scientific cooperation between the National Museum of Natural History and institutions in Latin American and Caribbean countries, the program is designed to train colleagues working in public museums and non-profit research centers in the internationally recognized best practices for managing, preserving and using natural history collections. Participants will work collaboratively with Museum staff to identify the best practices that can be applied within the context of their home institution’s mission, resources, and environmental conditions. The goal of the program is to provide training that will enable participants to return to their countries with the expert knowledge to strengthen their home institutions.

In 2010, the program will support 10 participants.


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The program will cover the following topics through lectures, workshops, demonstrations, independent research, and hands-on activities:

  • Principles guiding natural history collections development.
  • Collection management procedures and preservation techniques including: acquisitions and accessions, specimen/object preparation, packing/shipping techniques, exchanges, loans, access and use, documentation, storage, conservation, pest control, profiling, cataloging, digitization, and administration, among others.
  • Issues associated with collecting practices and the international exchange of specimens.
  • The use of collections in research, museum exhibits and educational programs, and how natural history collections can be used to help educators meet science education goals.


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Eligibility Criteria

The applicant must:

  • Be a permanent staff member of a public or non-profit museum, research center, or other natural history collections-holding institution in a Latin American or Caribbean country.
  • Hold a position with responsibility for the care and curation of natural history collections (e.g. anthropology, biology, geology, paleontology) in that institution.
  • Have proficiency in reading and speaking English.
  • Have the home institution’s support as noted below.

Graduate students are not eligible to apply unless they are also full-time employees at their home institutions.

The National Museum of Natural History will select the candidates for admission to the program following its own selection procedures and criteria.

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Each participant will receive an award that will cover their travel from their country of origin to Washington, D.C. and their lodging expenses in the D.C. metropolitan area. A living allowance will also be provided. Insurance costs will not be covered, but a medical emergency fund will be available.

Participants will be responsible for arranging any visas that may be necessary for their travel to the U.S. and for the cost of such visas. Participants must have received their visa by January 29, 2010.


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Application Procedures

Applicants must submit the following materials in English in order to be considered. Failure to provide any of these materials will make the application invalid.

1. Complete Application Form. Download the application.

2. A one-page cover letter directed to the selection committee that expresses the applicant’s interest in the program.

3. A résumé that highlights the applicant’s collections-related experience (e.g. management, conservation, research, exhibits, educational programs, etc.).

4. A letter of support from the home institution. This letter should be signed by the institution’s lead administrator, and indicate that the institution endorses the application of its employee, and that if selected, the institution will commit to releasing him/her for the duration of the program; and to providing him/her with his/her original post or a better one on his/her return. Download a sample letter.

IF SELECTED, applicants will also have to provide:

    • A written commitment to return to their countries of origin upon completion of the program.
    • A written commitment to participating in an ongoing evaluation of the program and its impact on their home institutions over a two-year period following their training.

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Deadline for Submissions

Materials should be submitted via email only as Word documents (PDF files are preferred) by October 16, 2009 to:

Carol R. Butler, Chief of Collections

The letter of support from the home institution, signed by the institution’s lead administrator, should be sent by registered mail to the address below and it should be postmarked by October 16, 2009. Failure to send this letter will make the application invalid.

Carol R. Butler, Chief of Collections
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
P. O. Box 37012, MRC 106
Washington, DC   20013-7012

All applicants will be notified of their application status at the end of October 2009.

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Questions about the program or eligibility can be directed to Carol Butler at:

Only email enquiries will be answered.

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