Made Local

Eric Dorfman


“Human intervention is disrupting the natural processes and cycles of the earth’s ecosystem. And a lot of the things that we took for granted as being study subjects are no longer there. Natural history museums are repositories of knowledge, and when the evidence around you is not there anymore—you turn to museums.”


Natural history museums are changing, both because of their own internal development and in response to changes in context. Historically, the aim of collecting from nature was to develop encyclopedic assemblages to satisfy human curiosity and build a basis for taxonomic information. Today, with global biodiversity in rapid decline, there are new reasons to build and maintain collections, while audiences are more diverse, numerous, and technologically savvy. Institutions must learn to embrace new technology while retaining the authenticity of their stories and the value placed on their objects. The Future of Natural History Museums discusses issues that our institutions will face over the next decades, including the study of collections, teaching and learning, ethics, and running nonprofit businesses.

Dr. Eric Dorfman is Director of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History, an active advocate for natural and cultural heritage, and an author of popular books on natural history. Since 2013, he has been President of the International Council of Museums Committee for Museums and Collections of Natural History. Prior to his current position, he was Director of Whanganui Regional Museum in New Zealand and lectured in the Museums and Heritage Studies Department of Victoria University of Wellington.

A panel discussion with Eric Dorfman and contributors to the book will be followed by an informal meet-and-greet of the panelists in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History including:

  • Moderator Aedín Mac Devitt, Head of Publication and Documentation Department, International Council of Museums (ICOM)
  • Dr. Eric Dorfman, Daniel G. and Carole L. Kamin Director, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
  • Lynda Knowles, Legal Counsel-Contracts, Denver Museum of Nature & Science
  • Dr. Emlyn Koster, Director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • Dr. Christopher Norris, Division of Vertebrate Paleontology, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
  • Dr. Anna Omedes, Vice-President, Ecsite and President, Association of Science and Technological Centres and Museums of Spain

This Made Local event is presented in partnership with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the International Council of Museums Committee for Museums and Collections of Natural History Conference.


Carnegie Library Logo
Carnegie Museum of Natural History logo


Free, with registration
Signed copies of The Future of Natural History Museums will be given to the first 100 attendees as they arrive.
Registration may also be completed via phone (412.622.8866).


Carnegie Library Lecture Hall (Oakland)
4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, 15213


Upcoming Lectures

Elizabeth Kolbert

R. F. Kuang

Percival Everett

Cat Bohannon