• Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

    Header of Museums and Collections at Transmitting Science

On-site Course – 2nd Edition

Fluid Preservation

April 19th-23rd, Barcelona (Spain)

Museums and Collections

Museums and Collections


Please, SUBSCRIBE to our Newsletter if you want to receive information on new editions.

Fluid Preservation

Course overview

In this course, conservator Simon Moore, assisted by John E. Simmons, will present a series of lectures, discussions, and supervised hands-on laboratory activities on the evaluation, conservation, and preservation of fluid-preserved specimens. Topics to be covered include the history of fluid preservation, histology and morphology of fluid preserved specimens, and techniques including narcotization, fixation and re-fixation, transfer between preservatives, fluid preservative options, identification of historic sealants, specimen repair, and how to work with historic and modern fluid preserved specimens. Participants will learn to cut, grind, and drill filler holes in glass; rehydrate desiccated specimens and remove air bubbles from them; mount specimens on glass backing plates; seal containers, cope with fungal and bacterial outbreaks, and work with transparencies. During the course, participants will become acquainted with the evaluation of a range of preservative fluids for zoological and botanical specimens, including preservation of colour in specimens.




Centre de Restauració i Interpretació Paleontològica (CRIP)

C/ Mestre J. Lladós, 1
08781 Els Hostalets de Pierola, Barcelona (Spain)

How to get there


April 19th-23rd




30 hours on-site.

This course is equivalent to 2 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) at the Life Science Zurich Graduate School.

The recognition of ECTS by other institutions depends on each university or school.


Places are limited to 18 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order. If the course fills up there will be an assistant instructor to help during the practise time.

Participants who have completed the course will receive a certificate at the end of it.

Simon Moore instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Simon Moore
Natural Sciences and Cutlery Historian
United Kingdom

John E. Simmons instructor for Transmitting Science

John E. Simmons
United States of America


Monday. Introduction: Including local logistics, fire-exits, risks, allergies, house H&S rules, self introductions.

  • Morning:
    • Overview of course technology and histological effects of fluid preservation.
    • Questions and discussion about the importance of fluid collections, fixation versus pseudo-fixation, fixation versus preservation.
    • Glass cutting, grinding, drilling: necessary for making lids and backing plates.
    • Rehydration of dried-out specimens started.
    • Relevance of injecting fresh material with fixative.
  • Afternoon:
    • Preparation of jars (checking, grinding out blemishes – lab).
    • Dehydration/ Hydration ladders start (lab).
    • Thread mounting of specimens (lab).
    • Celloidin mounting of snails to specimens and labels (lab).
    • Check rehydrating specimens and fix + inject if they are ready (lab).

Tuesday. Narcotisation, historical sealants, pelagic (jellyfish) mounts, botanical preservatives.

  • Morning:
    • Check of previous day’s work, analyse and correct problems. Move specimens in ladders (lab).
    • Changing fluids in sealed jars (lab).
    • How to deal with air bubbles, especially those trapped inside rehydrated specimens using a small portable vacuum pump (lab).
    • Making glass needles and their use in specimen repair (lab).
    • Celloidin repair of specimens in IMS (lab).
    • Releasing vacuum in Visijars.
    • Thread mounting of specimens (continuation) including jellyfish on acetate discs (lab).
  • Afternoon:
    • Move specimens in ladders (lab).
    • Compounding of sealant/s (gelatine, Acrifix, bitumen).
    • Unsealing jars containing specimens requiring treatment (lab).
    • Other types of sealant including historical sealants.
    • Sealing of jars that are ready (lab).

Wednesday. Preservatives, lipids, copper wire staining.

  • Morning:
    • Checking of previous day’s seals (lab).
    • Assessing problems: evaporation and dilution.
    • Dealing with lipids and other contaminants including fungal growth.
    • Copper salts staining specimens, from being mounted on copper wire.
    • Detecting preserving fluids and auto-dilution problems: use of map pins and Dries van Dam’s ‘pills’.
    • Making your own specific gravity detector (lab).
    • Which preservatives should you use?
    • Problems of mixing fluids (exothermic due to binary azeotropy and leading to air bubble formation).
    • Buffering and pH levels (lab).
  • Afternoon:
    • Stretching polypropylene rod (lab).
    • Topping up sealed jars, ‘corking’ and sealing. Checking for problems and why they may have occurred.

Thursday. Transparencies, labels and label inks, tubes in jars (invert or not?) Jar types and problems, storage areas, plastination – ethics.

  • Morning:
    • Check of nearly-finished jars, are they leaking? If so, why, what has caused this – understanding how and why problems can occur and why deadlines can be difficult to meet! (lab).
    • Dealing with transparencies – clearing fluids including glycerol, propylene glycol, methyl benzoate and turpentine and problems associated with these.
    • Sending fluid-preserved specimens by post or courier, worldwide policies changing year to year. Links to answers nh-coll website: http://mailman.yale.edu/mailman/listinfo/nhcoll-l.
    • How to store such collections so that they need minimum monitoring and maintenance.
    • Labels and their problems, which paper/s to use. Internal or external labels?
  • Afternoon:
    • Finishing of practical work and projects.



  • Course Fee
  • Early bird (until July 31st, 2020):
  • 580 € *
    (464 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • Regular (after July 31st, 2020):
  • 690 € *
    (552 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks and lunches (VAT included).
    * Participants from companies/industry will have an extra charge of 100 €.
  • Course Fee + Accommodation Package
  • Early bird (until July 31st, 2020):
  • 910 € *
    (793 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • Regular (after July 31st, 2020):
  • 1020 € *
    (882 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks, transportation between the Venue and Barcelona, accommodation from Sunday to Friday, breakfasts, lunches and dinners (VAT included).
    * Participants from companies/industry will have an extra charge of 100 €.

You can check the list of Ambassador Institutions. If you want your institution to become a Transmitting Science Ambassador please contact us at communication@transmittingscience.com


Course Schedule

Participants will make their own way

  • Monday to Thursday:
    • 9:30 to 13:00 Lessons.
    • 13:00 to 14:00 Lunch (included).
    • 14:00 to 17:00 Lessons.
  • Friday:
    • 10:30 to 13:00 Visit to Museum Blau.

The class schedule is approximate; it is possible that the content of one day may run into the next and a working day may be longer than advertised.

Course + Accommodation Package Schedule
  • Sunday:
    • 19:00 Meeting point in Plaza Catalunya (Barcelona) to take the bus to Els Hostalets de Pierola. If you are planning to arrive later, you can find more information on how to get there.
    • 20:00 Registration in the Hostel.
    • 20:30 Dinner.
  • Monday to Thursday:
    • 08:00 to 09:00 Breakfast
    • 9:30 to 13:00 Lessons
    • 13:00 to 14:00 Lunch (included)
    • 14:00 to 17:00 Lessons
    • 20:30 Dinner
  • Friday:
    • 8:00 to 9:00 Breakfast.
    • 9:30 take the bus to Barcelona.
    • 10:30 to 13:00 Visit to Museum Blau.

The class schedule is approximate; it is possible that the content of one day may run into the next and a working day may be longer than advertised.


If you choose the Accommodation Package you will be hosted at the Youth Hostel Can Roviralta,  in shared dormitories (common bathrooms), although you will only share rooms with other course participants (male or female only).

If you prefer to stay in a single room, you can do so with a supplementary charge.

The Accommodation Package includes transportation from the centre of Barcelona to the venue and back, at the start and end of the course, respectively. The trip takes around 1 hour each way by private bus.

If you do not wish to take the Accommodation Package, you can find a few other options in near by towns or in Barcelona city. However, please be aware that from the centre of Barcelona city it takes about one hour by car and one hour and a half by public transport to arrive to Els Hostalets de Pierola. Course participants will find that staying in Els Hostalets de Pierola is more convenient.


Discounts are not cumulative and apply only on the Course Fee. We offer the possibility of paying in two instalments (contact courses@transmittingscience.com).

Former participants will have a 5 % discount on the Course Fee.

20 % discount on the Course Fee is offered for members of some organizations (Ambassador Institutions). If you want to apply to this discount please indicate it in the Registration form (proof will be asked later).

Unemployed scientists living in the country were the course will be held, as well as PhD students based in that country without any grant or scholarship to develop their PhD, could benefit from a 40 % discount on the Course Fee. If you want to ask for this discount, please contact the course coordinator. That would apply for a maximum of 2 places and they will be covered by strict inscription order.