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|Darwin Centre Opens Up Science
- Millions of specimens to go on show at Natural History Museum for the first time
THE NATURAL HISTORY Museum unveils its Darwin Centre today, a UKP100 million project that showcases millions of previously locked-away animal specimens.
Some of the creatures - preserved in alcohol - were collected by Charles Darwin himself on his famous voyage aboard The Beagle where he first postulated the famous theory of evolution. Other highlights include a tuna, a shark, a komodo dragon, and a wolf.
Overall there are 22 million specimens in the centre, kept in 450,000 jars. In the past, they have been available only for approved scientists working in the back rooms of the museum in South Kensington, but the museum decided it was important to show how biological science is based on evidence.
"These specimens were the most awkward things to house," said Oliver Crimmen, Fish Curator at the museum. "Some were kept in a motley collection of containers under stairwells and in cupboards."
The specimens are now in state of the art tanks open for public viewing. Also on view to visitors will be some of the scientists themselves. "This is not an exhibition. It's a working building full of scientists and full of collections," said the museum's Professor Phil Rainbow. "We thought it was important that we let our visitors see what we do and why it's important."
The Darwin Centre opens to the public at the end of this month, at least for its zoological collection. The botanical and insect section is due for completion in 2007.