Europa Nostra Award for Naturalis
The European Commission revealed the winners of the 2016 Europa Nostra Awards, the Commission's price for cultural heritage. One of the laureates was the CETAF-member Naturalis Biodiversity Center from Leiden, Netherlands.
The laureates generally are recognised for their exemplary achievements in conservation, research, dedicated service, and education, training and awareness-raising and are excellent examples of creativity, innovation, sustainable development and social participation in the heritage field throughout Europe. Naturalis in particular was awarded for their development of an industrial style of digitisation of natural history collections which resulted in the digitisation of nearly 9 million zoological, botanical and geological specimens, from across Europe and beyond, of tremendous value to researchers everywhere. The jury appreciated “the grand scope and the ambitious nature of its research and, most importantly, for the future global research that it has facilitated” and "the potential of this project to facilitate further research programmes, allowing researchers, as well as the public, to explore a significant part of this collection remotely via Europeana and an API (online database system)”.
Naturalis developed nine so-called digistreets which specifications for each type of specimen like dried plants or geological samples. This methodology, together with five years of intense and dedicated work resulted in the digitisation of 8,665,000 objects. This number was 23 per cent more than the original target of 7 million and can therefore be viewed as a huge success. The standardisation of the practice also enables the project to be easily continued despite the end of its original five-year period.