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The DiSSCo consortium in


Portugal is represent in DiSSCo by the national research infrastructure PRISC – Portuguese Research Infrastructure for Scientific Collections, included in the national Research Infrastructures Roadmap since 2014. PRISC gathers the three universities that hold the main Portuguese natural history museums and botanic gardens: the National Museum of Natural History and Science, which includes the Botanic Garden of Lisbon and the Tropical Botanic Garden, of the University of Lisbon; the Museum of Science, the Botanic Garden and the Herbarium of the University of Coimbra; and the Natural History and Science Museum of the University of Porto, which includes Porto’s Botanical Garden.

participating institutions

Maria João Fonseca

Natural History and Science Museum of the University of Porto


National Museum of Natural History and Science, University of Lisbon

The National Museum of Natural History and Science dates from 1768 and was integrated in the University of Lisbon (ULisboa) since its foundation, in 1911. The Museum holds scientific collections on botany, zoology, anthropology, geology and palaeontology, totalling c. 1.3 million specimens, and holds two botanic gardens, the Botanic Garden of Lisbon, and the Tropical Botanic Garden. The Museum also preserves and studies important collections of scientific instruments dating from the 16th to 20th centuries and holds significant historical documentation related to some of the most important scientific institutions in Portugal. Since 2015, it manages the collections of the Institute for Tropical Research (IICT), which was then incorporated in the ULisboa. The Museum is fully engaged in the mission of documenting the diversity of natural world, making first hand science through innovative R&D in natural sciences and history of science, and promoting scientific culture through the accessibility of its collections, as well as through exhibitions, educational programmes and cultural activities.

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Museum of Science of the University of Coimbra

The Science Museum of the University of Coimbra holds the oldest Portuguese natural history and scientific instruments collections, the first objects dating mostly from the Century of Lights. These collections are yet associated with others that reveal the evolution of the University of Coimbra and its influence in Portugal and the world. The museum is included in the “University of Coimbra Alta and Sofia”, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2013. The Science Museum assumes the responsibility of ensuring the conditions for the preservation and use of the collections, and aims to be an inclusive reference center for the dissemination of scientific and technological culture. As a modern museum is must also respond to the demands of contemporary society, inspiring and motivating citizens to science, by using its collections. Through research, production, transmission and dissemination of the scientific knowledge and history of the University of Coimbra it also assumes its role as an interface of the University activity.

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Botanic Garden of the University of Coimbra

The Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra (JBUC) was founded in 1772, under the Pombaline Reform, for the in vivo knowledge of aromatic and medicinal plants by the university students. Almost 250 years old, JBUC has maintained the purpose of cultivating and acclimatizing botanical collections from around the world and its mission focused on research, conservation, education and leisure. With an area of 13 hectares, JBUC is organized in two parts: Classic Garden (4 hectares), with the Central Square, the garden primordium, the systematic schools and the tropical greenhouse (recently restored, dated from 1866), and the Arboretum (9 hectares) with a bamboo plantation and diverse trees and shrubs. In June 2013 it was considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

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Natural History and Science Museum, University of Porto

Built upon university natural history, physics and chemistry collections, dating from as early as the 18th century, the Natural History and Science Museum of the University of Porto (MHNC-UP) was formally established in the end of 2015 as the result of the merging of two major museums in the University – the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum. Committed to the wider mission of building and disseminating knowledge about evolution, diversity and the confluence between the natural and the cultural worlds, the MHNC-UP seeks to preserve, promote, study and raise awareness about a broad heritage linked to the natural, exact and human sciences, built up through education and research-related activities carried out in the University throughout more than two centuries. The MHNC-UP is organized according to a structure that encompasses a core unit located in the facilities of the Historical Building of the Rectory of the University of Porto, and another one, which includes the Hall of Biodiversity and Porto’s Botanical Garden. In its core pole, currently under rehabilitation, the MHNC-UP holds, and will soon display, important historical and newly incorporated and organized collections of geology, paleontology, zoology, archaeology, ethnography, botany (U.Porto’s Herbarium PO) and science.

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Coimbra Herbarium COI
With the mission to permanently preserve plant material for reference and research, provide material and information for the study of plant diversity and divulge the importance of plant diversity, the Herbarium of the Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Coimbra (international acronym COI) has c. 800.000 specimens, organised in separate collections due to the research priorities over the year. The General collection retains the original organisation of the herbarium and is by Dalla Torre’s Genera siphonogamarum of 1900-1907 (Gen. siphon.). The organisation of the sub-Saharan African plants emphasises the connections with the British Museum and Kew following Bentham & Hooker’s Genera plantarum of 1862-1883 (Gen. pl.). The Portuguese plants follow Pereira Coutinho’s Flora de Portugal (2nd ed., revised by R. T. Palhinha 1939). The Cryptogams are being organised alphabetically.

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Participating institutions in


The Portuguese Research Infrastructure for Scientific Collections – PRISC gathers scientific collections on botany, zoology, anthropology, geology and palaeontology, totalling c. 3.335 million specimens. The uniqueness of these collections makes PRISC an important piece in the European natural history museums’ landscape. These extensively document the biodiversity of the Iberian Peninsula and of the Portuguese Macaronesian archipelagos, which are part of the Mediterranean basin biodiversity hotspot. Due to Portugal’s colonial history, PRISC also holds important collections collected in Africa and Brazil, during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
PRISC’s members are deeply committed to providing open and universal access to scientific collections and associated data. PRISC is involved, since 2016, in a concerted project for aggregating, harmonizing and making available biodiversity data, in close collaboration and with the support of the Portuguese e-infrastructure PORBIOTA.


National Funding

The Portuguese Research Infrastructure for Scientific Collections – PRISC has been granted with € 5.932.122 for its implementation, for a three-year period starting in June 2017. Additional funding of € 881.891 for digitization activities has been made available through the participation of the three museums in the Portuguese e-Infrastructure for Biodiversity Data – PORBIOTA.

Everything on one screen

Collection Dashboard

The dashboard you can see below contains data on the collections of natural science institutions across Europe. Page one shows the approximate number of collections per category for all of the 89 institutes who participated in an initial DiSSCo survey and page two the national contributions to the European collection. The selection boxes allow filtering for country and institutions. The data in this dashboard is populated with information as sent by the DiSSCo partners through an initial survey in November 2017 and should therefore be considered as preliminary Following that survey, we went through a rigorous process of identifying obvious errors and contacting individuals to correct those. Nevertheless it will probably still contain some errors and information might be outdated. Please contact Niels Raes if you detect any issues so the data can be updated.

If you would like to see a full screen version of the dashboard, please click here.