[Skip to content] [Skip to main navigation] [Skip to user navigation] [Skip to global search] [Accessibility information] [Contact us]

Paolo Viscardi


Paolo Viscardi studied Biology and Geology at the University of Bristol and Comparative Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Leeds.
Before coming to the Horniman in 2007, Paolo had worked for the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History, University College Dublin and Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, with roles ranging from supervising recovering heroin addicts on a back-to-work programme to practical conservation and documentation.
At the Horniman, Paolo is responsible for the curation of the osteology (bone), geology (rock) and palaeontology (fossil) collections. He identifies and researches specimens, deals with enquiries, provides access for researchers, writes interpretation for objects, develops partnerships and collaborations with other institutions and provides input on issues relating to policy and legislation relating to collections.
Paolo has collaborated with people from a variety of backgrounds, including projects investigating mermaids, working with fine art photographer Sean Dooley on the After Life exhibition at the Horniman, and being invited to provide a scientist’s perspective on Today We Reboot The Planet, the Adrián Villar Rojas exhibition at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

Paolo has also contributed to the book Jakes Bones, written by an 11-year-old bone-collector in Scotland, and to the new BBC TV series The Secrets Of Bones with Ben Garrod.

In his spare time, Paolo keeps a blog and helps run a biology Q&A site called Ask A Biologist. He is also involved in organising science communication events in the London area and gives talks on a variety of topics to a variety of audiences. Paolo is a Fellow of the Linnaean Society and a Trustee to the Natural Science Collection’s Association (NatSCA) committee.
You can find Paolo on Twitter under the name @PaoloViscardi

Research interests

  • Osteology
  • Biomechanics and functional anatomy
  • Taxonomy
  • Science communication


  • Mermaids Uncovered,  the Journal of Museum Ethnography – Spring 2014
  • A Survival Strategy for Natural Science Collections: The Role of Advocacy,  the Journal of Natural Science Collections, Issue 1 - December 2013
  • Strategic issues for natural history collections: a summary of the NatSCA 2013 conference,  Museums Association
  • Why Lonesome George Should Get Stuffed (Or Pickled),  the New Statesman, June 2012
  • The Horns of a Dilemma: The Impact of the Illilcit Trade in Rhino Horn, NatSCA News, 2012 NatSCA News, Issue 22, Pages 8-13
  • Rhino review 2011, Viscardi PV, 2012, NatSCA News.
  • Natural History Collections – Why Are They Relevant, Guardian Science Blogs, April 2011
  • Running A Questions-and-Answer Website for Science Education: First-Hand Experiences, Evolution:Education and Outreach, March 2011
  • If you jump on a bandwagon, hold onto the reins, P. Viscardi, 2010, Museums Journal 110(08):p17
  • Darwin200 – beyond the bicentenary, Viscardi PW, 2010, NatSCA News 19:54-59
  • How long is a piece of Strix? Methods in measuring and measuring the measurers, Viscardi PW, Sakamoto M & Sigwart JD, 2010, Zoomorphology 129(3):185-194
  • Climate control in an uncontrollable building, Viscardi PW, Sigwart JD & Monaghan NT, 2007, Collections Forum 21(1-2):85-95
  • Bridging a chasm of understaffing, Viscardi PW & Sigwart JD, 2006, SPNHC Newsletter 20(2):12-13
  • Climate control in an uncontrollable building, Viscardi PW, Sigwart JD & Monaghan NT, 2005, NatSCA News. 6:32-34
  • Aerodynamics and energetics of intermittent flight in birds, Rayner JMV, Viscardi PW & Ward S, 2001, American Zoologist 41:188-204

Conference presentations

  • 2010, Natural Science Collections Association (NatSCA) - Public Engagement in Natural Science Conference, Darwin200 – beyond the bicentenary.
  • 2009, Science Online London, Online communication of science by institutions and organizations (panel).
  • 2008, The Symposium of Palaeontological Preparation and Conservation, A preliminary investigation into the removal and repair of labels from fossil specimens.
  • 2005, Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections: Realising Standards, Climate control in an uncontrollable building.
  • 2003, Society for Experimental Biology, Intermittent flight as an energy saving mechanism.
  • 1999, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Aerodynamics and energetics of intermittent flight in birds.
  • 1999, Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology, Missing data and the phylogeny of the Pterosauria.