Illuminating nature: spotlights on natural history illustration from cave paintings to photographs
14th International Conference and AGM, Florence, Italy
8th-10th May 2003
Meeting Report 1
The beautiful Italian Renaissance city of Florence provided the backdrop for the Society’s 14th International Conference this year. Over sixty people attended with the furthest speaker travelling all the way from Hawaii. Countries represented included the USA, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain Portugal and Greece.
A reception in the courtyard of the Anthropology Institute at the end of the first day gave everyone an opportunity to meet and to look at the poster presentations.
Friday was excursion day with two groups in the morning visiting either the La Specola/Zoological Museum or the Palaeontological and Mineralogical Museums and the Giardini di Semplici. Both excursions had English speaking guides organised by Dr Masseti. The Palaeontological Museum (where I went) had superbly impressive large vertebrate specimens of Mastodons and other early elephantids and we were also shown the invertebrate collections upstairs, which were not open to the public, where rooms full of beautiful white-painted "classic" cases held a wide-ranging and well documented collection, including a special section on trace fossils.
In the afternoon both groups toured the Boboli gardens with a guide who had been responsible for their restoration. The Conference Dinner that evening was at Ottorino's: cream-jacketed waiters producing an endless stream of classic Italian food, working our way through antipasti, primo piatti, secundo piatti to puddings and coffee, initial worries about the couple of bottles of wine on each table resolved as they were replaced with fresh bottles of red or white as necessary!
The formal session resumed on Saturday, with coffee and lunch served, as on Thursday, just down the road, finishing around 16.30, early enough to allow a visit to the Florence shops. The only problem was the pronounced echo in the lecture theatre, which the AV team eventually managed to minimise: we wondered what special vocal skills the University lecturers have to cultivate to get their message over.
Meeting Report 2
The meeting was as much a social success as it was intellectually. Attendees sampled a broad range of the local cuisine in restaurants on piazzas across the city, and gathered together on Friday evening for the conference dinner at Ristorante Ottorino, not far from the Duomo. After a sumptuous and lively banquet, the Vice President proposed a vote of thanks to the outgoing president, and presented tokens of the Council's appreciation. The general atmosphere of the meeting throughout was relaxed and friendly, an ideal milieu for the fertile exchange of ideas.
Abstracts of the papers presented are available on-line.