National Museum of Natural History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences | News

The National Museum of Natural History, Sofia took place in the scientific conference “Natural History Museums in XXI century”

25.6.2024 18:30

The scientific conference “Natural History Museums in XXI century”, organised by Ruse Regional Museum of History (Ruse RMH), was conducted from 19 to 21 June 2024 on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the “Nature” department of Ruse RMH and 10 years since the opening of the exposition of Ecomuseum with Aquarium — Ruse.

Participants in the conference were scientists and specialists from seven museums, Trakia University, Belasitsa Nature Park Directorate, Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation and Green Balkans Federation of Nature Conservation NGOs. They share good practices for presenting the results of scientific research in museums and perspectives of museum expositions, dedicated to nature conservation.

The experts of the National Museum of Natural History, Sofia (NMNHS) presented five themes at the conference.

Prof. Zlatozar Boev, DSc presented the lecture “The National Museum of Natural History at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in the period 2005—2011”, prepared in co-authorship with Assoc. Prof. Alexi Popov and Prof. Pavel Stoev.

Report about “New finds of fossil proboscideans in the collections of the “Nature” Department of the Ruse RMH” was presented by Assoc. Prof. Georgi Markov, prepared in co-authorship with colleagues from the “Nature” department of Ruse RMH Venceslav Petkov and Krasimir Kirov.

Assoc. Prof. Nikolay Simov spoke about “Hazards of bat research in Bulgaria — a brief retrospective and lessons learned from the work of the Bat Research and Conservation Centre at NMNHS”.

The focus of the presentation of Sen. Assist. Dr Salza Palpurina — “Sharing the museum’s collections through” — was on the world’s largest open-access biodiversity data platform, GBIF, where the museums share the biodiversity knowledge locked in its scientific collections. The NMNHS, and in particular the Museum’s Herbarium “Boris Akhtarov”, is thus the first institution from Bulgaria that has started sharing scientific collections via To date, the Lichenized Fungi collection has been fully uploaded and new specimens from the Vascular Plants collection are regularly shared and can be viewed here:

Assist. Nadezhda Apostolova-Stoyanova presented some issues tackled during the process of digitization of the museum’s botanical collections, under the topic “Digitization of museum collections — experience of “Boris Achtarov” Herbarium at the National Museum of Natural History — Bulgarian Academy of Sciences”, prepared in co-authorship with Dr Salza Palpurina. Assist. Apostolova-Stoyanova also emphasized the digitization of herbarium collections started as part of the project “Upgrading the Scientific Infrastructure “Distributed System of Scientific Collections — Bulgaria (DiSSCo-BG): Stage 1 (2020—2023)””. Some of the benefits of digitization are fast, flexible and easy access to the information in the database; improved collection management; greater opportunity to share the entered information to a wide range of users in a national and international aspect. Over 4000 herbarium specimens (BG-NMNHS-BOT) and 3345 lichen specimens (BG-NMNHS-MYC) have been digitized so far.

Assist. Vladimir Nikolov presented the theme „A modern look at the paleontological richness of Bulgaria: Field work and building of an interactive database of vertebrate fossil sites of high scientific and cultural importance“, prepared in co-authorship with anthropologist Ralitsa Bogdanova and Prof. Nikolay Spassov.

The report describes the field and cameral work carried out so far in the execution of the project “Interdisciplinary research for the creation of an interactive database and assessment of the geoconservation potential of fossil deposits of significant scientific and museum value from Bulgaria”, financed by the Bulgarian National Science Fund of the Ministry of Education and Science, under contract No. KP-06-PN54/11. The focus is on the studies of the Mesozoic vertebrate fauna and the paleontological studies of mammal fauna of late Miocene age, conducted in the districts of Burgas and Vidin.

Bat research is a dynamic and highly demanding discipline that often involves working long hours in harsh environments such as caves, abandoned buildings, and remote areas. N. Simov presents the results of the work of the team of the project “Caves as a reservoir for novel and reoccurring zoonoses — ecological monitoring and metagenomic analysis in real time”. Funding for this study is provided by the Bulgarian National Science Fund — project CP-06-N51/9. A brief review of potential hazards during bat field research and evaluated over 30 accidents involving bat researchers in Bulgaria between 1993 and 2024. Our analysis revealed that human error was the common cause of these accidents and all of them could have been prevented if researchers had followed the established safety protocols. Our findings serve as a cautionary tale. We urge researchers to strictly adhere to established safety practices and advocate for proper training, shorter working periods, and mental health support.

The participants visited the archaeological reserves of Medieval Fortified Town of Cherven and Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo, and the nesting colony of the island of Mishka on the Danube river.

The materials from the conference will be available on the website of the Ruse RMH:

Story from National Museum of Natural History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences | News