On my bookshelf | The Gaia Atlas of Planet Management - Museums Association

On my bookshelf | The Gaia Atlas of Planet Management

How a 1980s book on global warming can influence collections management
Pierrette Squires
The book takes the Aral Sea, now a desert, between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan as one of its examples

By the time I was eight I had already lived in seven places across two countries, so I was fascinated by the wider world.

It was the 1980s, public messaging about the state of the planet was all famine, acid rain, holes in the ozone layer and the Aids crisis, and it was at this point I was given a book that would impact my outlook on the world and inform my career.

The Gaia Atlas of Planet Management is still on a bookshelf at my mum’s house and I always read it when I visit. The logical approach of the book is one very familiar to fellow conservators – condition assessment backed up by facts, followed by treatment suggestions.

This book provided a cornerstone for our thinking about global warming and its complex knock-on effects

It also predicts the Aral Sea (between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) drying up, as well as oil and resource wars. The solutions seemed so sensible I struggled, and in many cases continue to struggle, to understand why those in power had not already acted to put things right. At the time, British naturalist Gerald Durrell called this publication “a blueprint for our civilisation”.

The book was my introduction to areas crucial to museum collections management, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The book continues to inspire me to take a sustainable, inclusive approach. It should be essential reading for all collections managers.

Pierrette Squires is the team leader for collections at Bolton Museum, leads the North West Conservators Group and mentors for the Institute of Conservation

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