The Natural History Museum has received £5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to build the Darwin Centre Phase Two.
The Darwin Centre, built in two phases, is a world first in science communication where visitors can see behind the scenes, question Museum scientists about their work and discover how collections are used for research into important issues like climate change and disease prevention.
Darwin Centre Phase Two, a £65 million project due to open in 2008, will help to provide a secure home for the Museum's 28 million insect and 6 million plant specimens that are currently at risk from pests, humidity and fire. Phase Two will use methods such as temperature control to ensure vulnerable collections, such as plants brought back by Joseph Banks from Cook's first voyage, are protected.
The project will also create the best possible research facilities for important scientific research and will encourage visitors to explore our natural world in a more hands-on and interactive way. The Darwin Centre Phase One, housing the Museum's 22 million specimens stored in spirit, opened in September 2002 and was crucial to the Museum winning the Gold Award for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year at the Excellence in England Awards 2004.
'The Heritage Lottery Fund's £5 million grant has brought us very close to reaching our fundraising target,' said Darwin Centre Project Manager, Richard Toy. 'Darwin Centre Phase Two is urgently needed to save important and irreplaceable national treasures from being lost forever.'