The Natural History Museum, alongside the University of Reading, has revealed plans to develop a major new base for natural science research and international collaboration.
The planned centre, still subject to planning permission, will be established at the University-owned and operated Thames Valley Science Park (TVSP), in the Borough of Wokingham.
The new center is expected to house the Museum of Natural History’s collections of mammals, non-insect invertebrates, molecular collections and ocean floor sediments, totaling more than 27 million specimens, as well as more 5,500 meters of library and archive material.
The museum said that equates to about a third of its collection of more than 80 million objects, moving its largest collections since the 1880s.
Once open, the center – spanning the size of about three football pitches and planned for 2026, is expected to expand access to the collections for the Museum’s 350 scientists, their collaborators and researchers around the world through rapid digitization and scientific facilities.
The development will see collections currently at risk of deterioration and irreparable damage moved from “unsuitable buildings” to facilities that meet international standards for collection.
Investment of millions
The new center is being supported by investment from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as part of a UK government-wide priority to increase investment in R&D. Although an exact figure has not been revealed, Arts Minister Lord Parkinson said the government was investing “tens of millions” in the project.
Director of the Natural History Museum, Doug Gurr, said: “The University of Reading has a world-class reputation for teaching and research and there is enormous potential for collaboration in common areas of scientific specialties ranging from climate science to agriculture and forestry, to biodiversity loss and emergence. diseases.
“We look forward to joining the vibrant community of ambitious knowledge-based organizations at Thames Valley Science Park and building closer relationships with the institutions already based there – and of course reconnecting with the British Museum through its collection. of archaeological research.
The museum said its digitization project, which earlier this year reached 5 million specimens, will see “much-needed acceleration and enhancement” by the new center.
University of Reading Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Van de Noort said the base “could provide significant opportunities for our scholars and students, as well as bring benefits to the wider region.
“The University already has a working relationship with the British Museum, which also has a facility at the Thames Valley Science Park, as well as several other national and international organisations. This new relationship with the Natural History Museum should further strengthen the international research success of the two organizations.