Although most natural history museums and herbaria are small (fewer than 50,000 specimens), digital and online technologies are greatly increasing their value to society. By generating and disseminating new knowledge, these smaller facilities embody the mission of higher education. Natural history museums confront a recurring problem, however: a lack of personnel to assist with collections management. Even small collections require more than a single curator to oversee daily operations. Moreover, newly appointed curators typically underestimate curatorial complexities and challenges, the foremost of which are inadequate budgets and insufficient professional time allotted for curation. Creating numerous horizontal linkages from the facility within and outside the institution is considered important for the long-term viability of smaller facilities. In this article I discuss several situations that new curators are likely to encounter, and present recommendations for administrators regarding realistic budgets and curatorial allocations, including what they can expect in return for sustained institutional support.
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Vol. 55 • No. 9