Picturae & Naturalis Digitizing insect collections

Asilid fly, image has complete depth of field due to stacking photography

Biodiversity is under pressure, so knowledge about it is more important than ever. To be able to share and use this knowledge, natural history collections need to be available digitally. We helped Picturae to test a digitization machine for insects. 

Contact or cooperation?

Want to know more about this project? Contact Luc Willemse.

Naturalis is a good and reliable partner both for research and for other types of cooperation.

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In 2013 Picturae and Naturalis worked together to digitize the dried plant specimens of Naturalis - all five million of them.  The insect conveyor is new, and is the start of a new age for insect collections. 

The installation is currently at work in the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, where it will digitize 500.000 insects.  Picturae and Naturalis worked together on preparing and testing the machine. This does not just apply to technical matters, but also to questions about how to make the machine work in well in a museum context. Naturalis did put it to work behind the scenes, but in a museum hall where visitors could see the Picturae people and machines at work. Naturalis' museum guides were trained to answer questions. 

De Picturae insectenscanstraat in Naturalis bestond uit lopende banden en is zo groot als een half voetbalveld. Die in Berlijn is groter.
The 'Entomology conveyor' is a machine that fills a complete museum hall. The version in Berlin is even bigger. 

Once digitized, the insects are registered in a collection management system that will help keep track of them, but also make it easier to link them to DiSSCo. DiSSCo is a project where, besides Naturalis and the MfN, some 130 other European Natural History Museums work together on building one digital place for all of their collections. 

Who works
on this project?

These specialists at Naturalis work on this project:

  • Luc Willemse
  • Mathijs Vegter
  • Daphne Suijker
  • Frederique Bakker


DiSSCo is short for Distributed System of Scientific Collections.  Thousands of scientists throughout Europe are working together on building one single digital collection, that will consist of roughly one and half billion specimens. More information on DiSSCo.eu

Picturae is a Dutch company that develops solutions for digitizing, management and accessibility of all types of collections. This is their website

The Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin is, like Naturalis, leading the way in digitizing natural history collections. The entomology conveyor is currently on display in their museum. More info here