Nigel Larkin B.A.(Hons) M.Sc.
Nigel is a conservator of natural history specimens specialising in the excavation,
preparation, conservation, curation, storage and display of geological, palaeontological,
archaeological and osteological material. He uses his blacksmithing and welding skills to make
bespoke mounts for displaying museum specimens (up to the size of Asian elephants and Fin whales!)
and also undertakes the moulding of museum specimens to produce high quality casts.
Employment in museums
After completing his
undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences, Nigel worked for five years as a conservation scientist in the
Palaeontology Conservation Unit of The Natural History Museum,
London. The two main projects that he was contracted to work on were the
conservation and redisplay of a large collection of scientifically and
historically important Jurassic marine reptiles and the preparation,
conservation, mounting and installation of fossil material and casts for the
dinosaur gallery which opened in 1992. During this time he learnt a great deal
about the conservation of natural history specimens and the care of museum
collections. He also gained a Master of Science degree in Vertebrate
Palaeontology at University College London, studying part-time. In general his duties and
responsibilities at the NHM included: undertaking relevant preparation and remedial and
preventive conservation of all types of palaeontological material; the
replication of fossil and sub-fossil material in a variety of media for display and
research; the installation of fossil and replica specimens into new
exhibitions; responding to emergency conservation needs; and providing
conservation advice to staff of the Palaeontology Department and Exhibitions
After working there full time for five years his project-funded contracts
came to an end, but he still occasionally works for the Natural History Museum in a freelance
capacity. He has assisted the Engineering Section of the Exhibitions and
Education Department in mounting and installing geological material in the
Earth Galleries exhibition, assisted in installing the travelling Kokoro
robotic dinosaurs and has helped to organise major palaeontological excavations
abroad (as site manager) for the Natural History Museum on several occasions.
After leaving the NHM, Nigel's next major contract was to manage the West Runton Elephant
Conservation Project for Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service.
This was externally financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund. He was responsible
for designing and implementing the remedial and preventive conservation
strategies and the curation of the West Runton Elephant and associated fauna
(several hundred very important sub-fossil Pleistocene specimens). This included
creating a new lab facility, managing staff and volunteers, creating temporary
displays, delivering talks to the public, attracting funding, creating risk
assessments, curating the material, moulding bones and casting replicas for research purposes,
testing materials and publishing conservation research. Other departmental
duties included: advising the Museums Service and general public on geological
and palaeontological conservation and general natural history conservation;
conserving and installing specimens as part of the £12million Norwich Castle
Museum Redevelopment Project (HLF funded); advising on and undertaking preventive and remedial conservation of the geology collections and other
natural history collections; identifying geological specimens; undertaking
collections surveys; undertaking training of staff and public in conservation
issues; and installing and maintaining various environmental monitoring
West Runton Elephant Conservation Project was completed, Nigel was the
Curator of Geology for Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service for several years.
By then Norfolk Museums Service was the Hub museum service for the whole of the Eastern Regions. This
position involved further experience in remedial conservation and preventive
conservation projects, curation, documentation, conservation assessments and
Nigel worked as a conservator and curator in national museums or regional
museums services for over 20 years, and in addition undertook a variety of freelance projects in his own time during this period.
Now he works in a freelance capacity full time, mostly at home in Shropshire where he has a conservation studio.
As well as
Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service and the Natural History Museum, Nigel has
worked for the BBC and Channel4, worked in the Antarctic with the
British Antarctic Survey for a season and was site manager for fieldwork
in Gibraltar for a month each year for four years, excavating Neanderthal sites with The Natural History Museum.
Recently he has also undertaken
conservation work for the Abu Dhabi Islands Arcaheological Survey, the
Oxford Archaeological Unit, Kent County Council, The Norfolk
Archaeological Unit, Bradford University's Department of Archaeological
Sciences , Durham University's Department of Biological and Biomedical
Sciences, Somerset Museum, Bedford Museum, Dorset County
Museum, Birmingham Thinktank, the National Museums of Northern Ireland , Hancock Museum, York Museum Trust, Cambridge University Museums, The National Trust
and various individuals with private
He has worked as an excavator and site conservator on some
internationally important excavations in recent years including: the famous
Swanscombe site in Kent; Happisburgh and Pakefield, on the coasts of Norfolk and
Suffolk - The oldest hominid
sites in the whole of North and West Europe; a new site at Norton Subcourse shedding light on a hitherto unknown warm
period in the early Pleistocene; and the very best Neanderthal site ever to have
been found in the UK (at Lynford, Thetford Forest) which he discovered together
with John Lord.
Nigel recently completed a part-time Masters Degree in 'Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Systems'
with the University of East London and the Centre for Alternative Technology. This is to enable him to provide advice to museums
on how to conserve their energy with low-cost, low-tech solutions to reduce their carbon footprint and lower their energy costs.
One tool he uses for assessing museum environments including analysing display areas and collection storage areas is an infra-red thermal imaging camera.
Memberships and affilations etc
Until it merged with the
Biological Curators Group to form the Natural Sciences Collections Association
(NatSCA), Nigel was a committee member of the Natural Sciences Conservation
Group (NSCG). He is now a member of the NatSCA Conservation Committee and a member of the Geological Curators Group Committee.
He is also currently a committee member of, and is a former President of, the
Geological Society of Norfolk and is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
He is also a member of the Institute of Conservation, the Museums Association,
The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, the Care of
Collections Forum, East Anglian Conservators' Forum, the Quaternary Research
Association, Shropshire Geological Society and the Earth Science
Teachers Association. He is also a member of the British Artist Blacksmiths Association and has qualifications in MIG welding.
He is an 'Affiliated Researcher' at Cambridge University's Museum of Zoology and
an Associate Member of the 'Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project'.
For information about Nigel's publications - including the abstracts - visit his home pages at 'Researchgate' or at 'Academia.Edu' using these links:
His publications are also listed here:
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