Natural History Museum invites residents to public event
12 September 2023
The Natural History Museum (NHM) is set to host its first public event for the planned collections, science and digitisation centre at the University of Reading-owned Thames Valley Science Park (TVSP) in Shinfield.
The informal event to update on the Museum’s plans will take place on Thursday 14 September at TVSP’s Gateway Building (RG2 9LH), with two drop-in sessions for local residents: 3:30pm – 4:45pm and 6:15pm – 8pm.
Attendees will be able to view the plans for the centre and ask Museum staff questions. There will also be the opportunity to see and handle specimens representative of those moving to the centre, including a mammoth tooth, a seal skull and a starfish.
Subject to planning permission, the Museum will build a sustainable new centre at Thames Valley Science Park. By 2031, the centre will be operational, equipped with cutting edge laboratories, space for Museum scientists and purpose-built storage for 28 million specimens – from anteaters to zebras, corals to ancient fossils. Transporting these specimens to Shinfield will be the largest ever move of natural history specimens globally.
This new facility will further open up the collections to researchers for scientific innovation, strengthening the UK’s position in finding solutions to the planetary emergency.
Kathryn Packer, NHM Unlocked Programme Director, said: “The Natural History Museum is thrilled to be engaging with the local community in Shinfield ahead of our full planning application. This is a special opportunity for local people to find out more about the planned collections, science and digitisation centre directly from Museum staff. As a bonus, residents can also get up close to examples of the types of specimens we’ll be moving – from an elephant tooth to a fossilised whale ear bone – demonstrating the magnificent breadth of our collection and research.”
Molli Cleaver, Community Engagement Manager at the University of Reading, said: “We look forward to welcoming the Natural History Museum to the Thames Valley Science Park for this exhibition, especially the opportunity to chat to Museum staff and our neighbours. I am sure many people will enjoy being able to see the plans and some of the items from the Museum’s world-famous collections.”
A full planning application to develop the site will be submitted to Wokingham Borough Council in November 2023. Discussions with the Council are underway on all aspects of the planning application, including where the Museum can add value to the local community for employment and engagement.
Whilst the building and its collections will not be open access to the public, to help protect the collection, the Museum is keen to share the wonder of nature with the local community in and around Shinfield. Ideas for this range from possible link ups with local schools, to activities engaging the community with biodiversity and volunteering opportunities.
For local residents who can’t make the event, the plans will be made available online afterwards at: nhm.ac.uk/about-us/science-centre.
Image credit: Natural History Museum