About me

My background is as an ecologist and ornithologist, and my career has always been about the environment and environmental issues, in different ways.

My work is about accelerating partnerships, research, collections-based projects and public engagement in support of a better future, locally and globally. That might be working with individuals, museums, researchers, networks, other sectors, or coalitions of these; it can be with very small organisations, or very large ones. I have an international profile, reputation and network for work on museums, climate change and sustainability (notably with climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals), and I am regularly invited to speak at conferences on this work. I am a member of the International Council of Museums Sustainability Working Group, advising ICOM on how to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement, and of the International Union of Nature Conservation Commission on Education and Communication.


I worked as a field ecologist, focussed on bird ecology, before working in museums. I have always kept up a keen interest in birds and ecological issues, and these continue to be one of my main areas of expertise and activity. I have worked with natural history collections for over 35 years (the collection I built up from the age of 12 is now in a museum). I have been involved with museums for over 25 years, and worked in museums for nearly 20 years, at Manchester Museum (University of Manchester, one of the largest university museums in the UK). I have a lot of subject-specialist expertise in zoology and zoology collections in particular, but am familiar with the range of collections-related and museum-related issues more generally, and environmental issues and sustainability.

I have extensive experience (fifteen years) of setting up and running cross-disciplinary teams of curatorial staff, working at a senior level and through periods of intense change. I have led on all aspects of collections-related work in a large museum, including documentation; collections development, acquisition and disposal; repatriation of human remains to Australia, New Zealand, the Chatham Islands and Japan; research and academic development; and use of the collection for exhibitions and other programmes. I have led on and written policies relating to all manner of collections-related aspects of museums work, including human remains, collections development, and evolution as a scientific theory, among others. I have dealt with all manner of inquiries, Freedom of Information Requests, and developed relationships with local, national and international partners to develop the use of the collection. I have led on and overseen applications for Accreditation, and reporting for a variety of funders (ACE, HEFCE, University of Manchester). I have led on applications and reports to HEFCE (now Research England) that secured £7.2 million over five years. I have contributed to all manner of funding applications, in terms of funding concepts, business planning and reporting (e.g. Esmee Fairbairn/MA Collections Fund, Designation Development Fund, HLF Our Heritage and major capital projects, Wolfsson Foundation, Wellcome Trust, and others). I have been the named grant holder for a variety of grants (e.g. Wellcome Trust People’s Award, British Ecological Society, PRISM, HLF Our Heritage). I have supported many museums with funding applications, including many that were successful, through advice and letters of support. I advocated for museums and their work very widely, both within the sector and to other sectors, and have been a committee member of a number of groups (e.g. University Museums Group).

In terms of my education, I have a BSc (Hons) in Zoology (Animal Ecology) and an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies.

In terms of recent development, I attended the United Nations Summer Academy (in Bonn in August 2019), with a scholarship to participate in a week-long development course focussed on the Sustainable Development Goals.

United Nations Summer Academy, group photo

I was in the first cohort of Creative Climate Leadership (March 2017), funded by Creative Europe and delivered at the Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales.

I have an ILM 7 Award for Executive Coaching and Mentoring (2015) from the Institute for Leadership and Management.


Practice-based publications

McGhie, H. A. (2019). Museums and the Sustainable Development Goals. Curating Tomorrow.

McGhie, H. A. (2019). How Can Collections in UK Museums Support The Conservation of Global Biodiversity? Curating Tomorrow (funded by the British Ecological Society).

Dodd, J., S. Plumb, H. McGhie and L. Blazejewski (2018). Unexpected Encounters: How Museums Nurture Living and Ageing Well. Research Centre for Museums and Galleries, University of Leicester.

McGhie, H. A. (2014). Seven Million Wonders. Advocacy document for Northwest museums with natural history collections.


HA McGhie (2017). Henry Dresser and Victorian Ornithology: Birds, Books and Business. Manchester University Press, Manchester.

Co-edited books

Leal Filho ,W., B. Lackner and H. McGhie (Eds.) (2018). Addressing the Challenges in Communicating Climate Change Across Various Audiences. Springer, Gland.

Leal Filho, W., Manolas, E., Azul, A.M., Azeiteiro, U.M., McGhie, H. (Eds.) (2017–18). Handbook of Climate Change Communication. Three vols. Springer, Berlin.

Book chapters

McGhie, HA (2019). Museum Polar Bears and Climate Change. In O. Nevin, I. Convery, P. Davis and J. Kirchin (eds.), The Bear: A Cultural History of Bears. ‘Heritage Matters’ series, International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, University of Newcastle, Newcastle.

McGhie, HA (2018). Mainly making models: the scientific use of natural heritage collections. In B. Brenna, H. Dam Christensen and O. Hamran (eds.), Museums as Cultures of Copies: the crafting of artefacts and authenticity. Routledge, London.

McGhie, HA (2018). Promoting people’s connection with nature through natural history displays. In A. Sheersoi and S. D. Tunnicliffe (eds.), ‘Natural History Dioramas – traditional exhibits for current and actual educational themes’, Springer.

McGhie, HA (2018). Climate change: a different narrative. In Leal Filho ,W., B. Lackner and H. McGhie (Eds.) (2018). Addressing the Challenges in Communicating Climate Change Across Various Audiences. Springer, Gland.

McGhie, H. A., S. Mander and R. Underhill (2017). Engaging people with climate change through museums. Pp. 329–48 in Leal Filho, W., Manolas, E., Azul, A.M., Azeiteiro, U.M., McGhie, H. (Eds.), ‘Handbook of Climate Change Communication’, Springer.

McGhie, H. A. (2013). Images, ideas and ideals: thinking with and about Ross’s Gull. Pp. 101–27 in L. E. Thorsen, K. A. Rader and A. Dodd (eds), Animals on Display: The Creaturely in Museums, Zoos and Natural History. Penn State University Press, Pennsylvania.

McGhie HA, Brown, PB and J Horsley (2010). Dealing with Darwin at The Manchester Museum. in Filippoupoliti, A (ed.) Science Exhibitions: Communication and Evaluation. Museums Etc.

McGhie, H. A. and D. V. Logunov (2006). [Henry Dresser and Sergius Buturlin: friends and colleagues.] Pp. 40–53 in O. E. Borodina et al. (eds), Buturlinski Sbornik. Materialy II Mezhdunarodnykh Buturlinskikh Chtenii, Ulyanovsk, 21.09–24.09.2005. Korporatsiya Tekhnologii Prodvizheniya, Ulyanovsk [in Russian].


McGhie, H. A. (2012). Nineteenth-century ornithology, Leadenhall Market and fraud. British Birds 105(11): 678–82.

McGhie, H. A. (2011). Dresser, H. E. (1871–‘1881’= 1871–1882) [Initially Sharpe, R. B. and H. E. Dresser] A History of the Birds of Europe, Including All the Species Inhabiting the Western Palaearctic Region. Pp. 89–90 in E. C. Dickinson, L. K. Overstreet, R. J. Dowsett and M. D. Bruce (eds), Priority! The Dating of Scientific Names in Ornithology. Aves Press, Northampton.

McGhie, H. A. (2010). Contextual research and the postcolonial museum – the example of Henry Dresser. Pp. 49–65 in E. Bauernfield, A. Gamauf, H.-M. Berg and Y. Muraoka (eds), Collections in Context. Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien (Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference of European Bird Curators), Vienna.

Van Casteren A, Codd JR, Gardiner JD, McGhie HA, Ennos AR (2010). Sonation in the male common snipe (Capella gallinago gallinago L.) is achieved by a flag-like fluttering of their tail feathers and consequent vortex shedding. Journal of Experimental Biology 213, 1602-1608.

Ennos, R, Van Casteren, A, Codd, J, Gardiner, J and H McGhie (2009). How the snipe makes its drumming sound. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology- Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology 153(2), Supp. 1: S114-115.

McGhie, H. A. (2009). Letters from Alfred Russel Wallace concerning the Darwin commemorations of 1909. Archives of Natural History 36(2): 352–4.

McGhie, HA (2008). Catalogue of type specimens of molluscs in the collection of The Manchester Museum, The University of Manchester, UK. Zookeys 4: 1-46.

McGhie, H. A. (2006). [Henry Dresser and his Russian correspondents.] Our Birds 2–3 (32–3): 54–5 [in Russian].

McGhie HA (2005). Bird vision. Biological Sciences Review 17(4): 24-29. (April)

McGhie, H. A. and D. V. Logunov (2005). Discovering the breeding grounds of Ross’s Gull: 100 years on. British Birds 98(11): 589–99.

McGhie HA (2005). Specimens of extinct and endangered birds in the collections of the Manchester Museum. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 125(4): 247–52.

Collier RV & McGhie HA 2003. Persecution of red squirrels by Highland Squirrel Club 1903-46. Scottish Naturalist 115: 39-61.

McGhie, H. A. (2002). The egg of the Slender-billed Curlew at the Manchester Museum: a unique specimen? British Birds 95(7): 359–60.

McGhie HA (2002). Changes in persecution and distribution of Carnivores in north Scotland 1912-69 as evidenced by taxidermists stuffing books. Scottish Naturalist 114(2): 45–83.

McGhie HA (2002). Numbers of Siskins in relation to the size of the Scots Pine cone crop. Scottish Birds 23: 32-35.

McGhie HA (2002). Diet of Barn Owls in East Ross and East Ness. Scottish Birds 22(2): 92-104.

McGhie HA (2001). Egg sizes of crossbills in Scotland. Scottish Birds 22(1): 69.

McGhie HA & Summers RW (2001). Egg sizes of crossbills in Scotland. Scottish Birds 21(2): 85-87.

McGhie HA (2000). Density and habitat associations of Barn Owl in East Ross. Scottish Birds 21: 88-97.

McGhie HA, Moran SA & McGowan RL (2001). Late nineteenth century breeding records of Osprey and Sea Eagle. Scottish Birds 21(1): 60–1.

McGhie HA (2000). East Ross Rookeries in 1998-9. Scottish Birds: 21(1): 36-42.

Watson A, Swann RL, McGhie HA & M Nethersole-Thompson 1999. Corn Bunting decline in Easter Ross. Scottish Birds 20: 34-35.

McGhie HA (1999). New records from old: uses of historical documents in determining changes in wildlife. Highland Biological Recording Group Newsletter

McGhie HA (1999). Persecution of birds of prey in north Scotland 1912-69 as evidenced by taxidermists’ stuffing books. Scottish Birds 20: 98–110.

McGhie HA & Moran SA (1998). Last breeding by native Red Kites in Scotland. Scottish Birds 19: 300–1.

McGhie HA & Moran SA (1995). Probable first breeding by Brambling represented in a museum collection. Scottish Birds 18: 248–9.

McGhie HA (1994). Discovery of the first British clutch of Slavonian Grebe eggs in a museum. Scottish Birds.

McGhie HA, Brown AF, Reed S & SE Bates (1994). Aspects of the breeding ecology of Twite in the south Pennines. English Nature Research Report No. 118.

Book reviews

McGhie, HA (2018). The Future of Natural History Museums, ed. E. Dorfman. Museums Journal 118/3: 56.

McGhie, HA (2018). Review: Science Museums in Transition: Cultures of Display in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America, edited by Carin Berkowitz and Bernard Lightman, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017

McGhie, HA (2017). R. R. Janes, ‘Museums Without Borders’ [review]. Museums Journal, 117/2: 56–7. Science Museum Group Journal 10.

McGhie, HA (2015). Rader and Kain, Nature on Display: Revolutionising US museums of science and nature in the 20th century [review]. Museums Journal 115/6: 56.

McGhie, HA (2015). Curating biocultural collections: a handbook (review of). Journal of Historical Geography 53: 134–5. Science Museum Group Journal 10.

McGhie HA (2010). Review of Rupke, N ‘Richard Owen: biology without Darwin’. Metascience.