South Australian Museum Faces Backlash Over Plans to Cut Research Positions

The South Australian Museum faces backlash from scientists over plans to cut research positions, threatening its unique collections and scientific contributions built over 168 years.

Geeta Pillai
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South Australian Museum Faces Backlash Over Plans to Cut Research Positions

South Australian Museum Faces Backlash Over Plans to Cut Research Positions

The South Australian Museum is facing intense criticism from scientists over CEO David Gaimster's plans to significantly reduce the institution's research capabilities. The proposed changes involve replacing science positions with fewer, junior science curators, a move that has sparked outrage among hundreds of scientists and friends of the museum.

Critics warn that gutting the museum's research capabilities could be the "death of the museum" and its unique collections, which have been built over the institution's 168-year history. They argue that the changes would transform the museum into more of a "theme park" and make South Australia the "laughing stock of the scientific world."

Why this matters: The South Australian Museum's extensive collections and research capabilities have made significant contributions to the scientific community over the past 168 years. The proposed cuts to research positions threaten the future of these unique collections and the museum's ability to continue its important work in the fields of natural history and science.

The museum's researchers have made notable contributions, including describing over 500 new species and helping discover new minerals. The museum's research is considered unique due to its access to the extensive collections, which contain treasures such as the skeleton of the marsupial lion and fossils of the earliest multicellular life.

Experts emphasize that without the museum's research capabilities and the "chain of care" for the collections, the museum's collections are "doomed to wither and die." The proposed changes also threaten the museum's ecosystem of PhD students, retired academics, and scientists, which has delivered significant research output and funding.

In response to the backlash, a spokesperson for the South Australian Museum stated, "The museum is committed to maintaining its collections and research capabilities. We are currently reviewing our staffing structure to ensure the long-term sustainability of the institution while continuing to serve the scientific community and the public." However, many scientists remain skeptical and are calling for the museum to reconsider its plans to cut research positions.

Key Takeaways

  • South Australian Museum faces criticism over plans to cut research positions
  • Proposed changes could transform museum into "theme park", say critics
  • Museum's research has contributed significantly to science, including 500+ new species
  • Experts warn collections will "wither and die" without research capabilities
  • Museum says it's reviewing staffing to ensure sustainability, but scientists remain skeptical