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This Dusty Old Thing?

Genomics is a fast-moving science, no doubt about that, but it is also a young science. Is it really already time to start sorting around through its brief history, sifting for archeological shards from its earliest days so they may be catalogued and stored in museums?

You bet, or so say a few folks who have launched such a project, the Museum Genomics Initiative, Nature News reports.

Around a dozen science museums have joined forces to start collecting genomics technologies — some of them just a decade old, such as a colony picker from the Whitehead Institute — and are beginning to add them to their collections.

The international group of partners launched the project because they are concerned that shrinking museum budgets, a lack of sentiment among genomics researchers about their old machines, and the pace at which genomics tools are becoming obsolete, will cause these items to disappear to history.

"Very few scientists have any idea that they should preserve things," says Thomas Söderqvist, director of the Medical Museum in Copenhagen. "They just throw them out."

Simon Chaplin, head of the Wellcome Collection's library of biomedical history, says there is a risk that "if we don't act quickly, the material legacy of genomics will be lost."

Robert Bud, chief curator of science and medicine at London's Science Museum, which houses the Baby Blue prototype PCR machine, says the initiative is helping museums make decisions by creating a list of recommended artifacts.

Although it may be hard for him to reel one in right now, Bud has his eyes on landing an Oxford Nanopore sequencer.