London is home to some world-class museums, many of which are hubs for tourists, locals and researchers alike. However, huge numbers of historic artefacts from none other than the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew could soon be moving out.
Ageing buildings and damaged, limited storage space mean these institutions are considering relocating extensive parts of their collections to Reading University’s Thames Valley Science Park, but not everyone is happy about it.
The British Museum has already started this process. According to the Guardian, 1.5 million objects have already moved to the science park’s archeological research collection, but they faced little opposition.
However, the story isn’t the same for the Natural History Museum. A decision has been agreed to move 28 million specimens, and £200 million has been pledged to fund the new facility, which’ll house everything from tiny samples of ancient crustacea to whales and other large creatures.
A museum spokesperson said that the move would mean the collection is better preserved and easier to access. Former museum senior staff members have had something to say about it, though.
In a letter written to the Times, they claimed: ‘the Natural History Museum is leading the museum world in its loss of expertise and breaking up of collections.’
And the proposed move of Kew’s herbarium has been even more contentious. The current building, which has been extended six times throughout its life, is at a growing risk of flooding from the Thames, and also isn’t the most fire-secure. However, 15,000 people have signed a petition to keep the herbarium’s collection in place, and critics argue that the move would be detrimental to scientific research.
A decision is yet to be made for this one, with the board of trustees set to make up their minds in early December. However, we do know that the move would cost £200 million, and would take ten years to complete.
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