Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

NHM Unlocked Pgm to hold 28m specimens

© Trustees of the Natural History Museum.

Eleanor Mills, Extra £20m for new Natural History Museum research centre, 14 April 2023

The building will house 28 million specimens at Thames Valley Science Park.

The Natural History Museum (NHM), in partnership with the University of Reading, has secured a further £20m from the government for its Unlocked Programme to create a new collections and research centre at Thames Valley Science Park. The building is due to be completed in 2027 and fully functional by 2031.

The government committed £182m to the project in 2020 and with this newly announced additional funding, the project currently totals £201m.

The museum’s Unlocked Programme comprises a move of 28 million specimens to the new centre, which in turn will free up gallery space for the public at NHM’s South Kensington site.

The size of three and a half football pitches, the centre will house historical collections as well as digitisation and imaging suites, state-of-the-art molecular and analytical laboratories and cryo-facilities, enabling the museum to play a leading role in tackling urgent global challenges.

The project supports a government-wide priority to increase investment in UK science, research and development, and will be the NHM’s largest collections move in more than 140 years.

Doug Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum, said: “Once built, the centre will help find solutions to the planetary emergency using collections and research to answer the big questions of today including maintaining food security, improving biodiversity and addressing climate change.”

Lucy Frazer, the current culture secretary, said: “This large government investment in a new research and storage facility means the museum will be better placed to safely care for and increase access to its collections so they can be studied and enjoyed by future generations.”

Robert Van de Noort, vice-chancellor of the University of Reading, said: “This funding brings the University of Reading and the Natural History Museum a step closer to delivering this important collections and research centre that will open up innovative research opportunities for academics from Reading, and indeed all around the world.”

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Lynley Crosswell, Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne VIC 3001, © CAMD 2023
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