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Martyn Linnie Membership Profile

Profile of a Curator

What is your name?

Martyn Linnie

What is your position called?

Chief Technical Officer (Dept of Zoology) and Curator (Zoological Museum)

Where do you work?

University of Dublin, Trinity College

How many years have you been working in this capacity?

Approximately 20 years

When did you join SPNHC?

Can't remember, a long time ago (maybe 15 years)

*The Great Auk, Alca impennis, extinct 1844, Zoological Museum, Trinity College Dublin
from left to right: Dr. Martyn Linnie, Curator; Sir David Attenborough; and the British Ambassador to Ireland, Mr. David Reddaway

What drew you to the natural history field?

I have always been fascinated with animals. Working in a Zoology Department and particularly my role as Curator of the museum is pretty much a labour of love.

Describe the nature of the collections you work with.

It is entirely zoological based, approx 25K specimens. Much of the collection dates back over two hundred years and contains fine examples of extinct and endangered species including a well documented specimen of the Great Auk (extinct 1844)

What are your responsibilities for them?

It is very much a one man operation; most of my routine is based around managing the resources of the Zoology Department. In my 'spare' time I have complete responsibility for the care and development of the museum. It is an active teaching museum and provides an invaluable resource for our undergraduate students.

Describe some of your activities.

Recently the focus has been on the complete refurbishment of the museum. We raised around 30K Euro through our friends and alumni, had to replace all the cases and prepare completely new exhibits, based around all the animal groups from insects to elephants!

What do you find most interesting about your work? 

Working with a collection of such historic significance and the satisfaction of contributing to its long term security and integrity.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

The final product! A really attractive, small, but important museum. Also, the completion of a report on its status and history: a long process of five years research. Hopefully, it will raise awareness and provide a platform for its long term development. I was also delighted to complete my doctorate in 2000 on biodeterioration in museum collections with particular emphasis on integrated pest management.

What do you find most fulfilling about your work?

Working on a collection that was clearly in freefall and need of a major overhaul. We are not completely there yet, but like many of its contemporaries, it could have gone either way.

What have you learned from SPNHC to be particularly helpful? How has SPNHC helped you? 

Articles on conservation and routine care of collections, the sharing of knowledge and a type of kinship that arises from interested groups with similar problems and issues.