[Taxacom] Sad news: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Science Department and BKL Herbarium shutting down operations

Jaakko Hyvönen jaakko.hyvonen at helsinki.fi
Wed Aug 28 10:14:48 CDT 2013

Dear Kobinah Abdul-Salim, despite the fact that I share the views expressed by John Grehan I still encourage you to contact close collaborators of your institution and ask them to express their concern. At least in Finland one large herbarium (TUR) was saved in the early 90´s when the head curator asked very widely colleagues to send supportive letters. The closure did not take place, and as far as I know this was, at least partly, due to the wide international and national support received. If you wish to know more details about this case I would encourage to contact the current head curator of this particular herbarium.

all the best, jaakko 

On Aug 28, 2013, at 7:17 AM, John Grehan wrote:

> I predict that voicing concern to the BBG president will not make any
> difference at all. Institutions that make decisions rarely (if at all?)
> reverse themselves. This is just part of a national (and maybe
> international although one tends to hear more about one's local situation)
> trend in the decline of natural history sciences as an institutional
> function and focus by museums or Gardens.
> It remains to be seen whether the claim that the center will restore the
> research program “with a refined focus (whatever that is supposed to mean)
> and a means of sustained support,” will be more than rhetoric. Of course
> one does not know from the announcements as to why things should be
> different in the future if the governing board (or equivalent) could not
> address sustained support now rather than later.
> There are many natural history/science museums without science other than
> as educational exhibit/program and that appears to be the order of the day
> (I know of two natural history museums that are currently facing such
> measures). The public cares about natural history entertainment, but not
> for the science of natural history taxa itself and of course that is
> reflected in natural history science funding. Spilled milk and all that.
> John Grehan
> On Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 7:34 PM, Kobinah Abdul-Salim <
> kobinah.abdulsalim at gmail.com> wrote:
>> It is with great sadness that I report that operations of the Science
>> Department of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden have been indefinitely suspended
>> (I have been a research associate at the herbarium there for a little over
>> a year, while teaching at nearby Medgar Evers College (CUNY)).  The
>> department encompasses  the BKL Herbarium, the BBG Science Library, and
>> associated research facilities. As of last Thursday, August 22, the entire
>> senior research staff has been laid off, and we have been scrambling to
>> process and return materials on loan. As of today, there are no concrete
>> plans to restructure the department, nor is there any word as to what will
>> become of the collection.
>> Word of the closure is slowly filtering through news sources, who most
>> major so far by the NY Daily News:
>> http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/botanic-garden-prunes-science-staff-article-1.1438606
>> Also local reporting by DNAInfo:
>> http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130823/prospect-heights/brooklyn-botanic-garden-cuts-science-staff-weeks-after-native-garden-debut
>> For those who care about herbaria and collections-based science, I would
>> encourage you to voice your concern to BBG president Scot Medbury
>> (scotmedbury
>> at bbg dot org).
>> A terrible loss to a great botanical institution, and botany!
>> Kobinah Abdul-Salim
>> Assistant Professor of Biology
>> Medgar Evers College (CUNY)

Jaakko Hyvönen  
Plant Biology (Biocenter 3), PO Box 65, FIN-00014 UNIV. HELSINKI, FINLAND

e-mail      jaakko.hyvonen at helsinki.fi 
phone cell +358-(0)50-5171184
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