Prince William opens Museum Darwin Centre

14 September 2009

HRH Prince William of Wales and Sir David Attenborough unveil the Natural History Museum's new Darwin Centre in a nature-inspired opening celebration today.

HRH Prince William of Wales and Sir David Attenborough unveil the new

HRH Prince William of Wales and Sir David Attenborough unveil the new Darwin Centre

During his first official opening at a museum, Prince William helped a Museum scientist working in a molecular lab, viewed some of the Museum’s 20 million insect and plant specimens and met young patients visiting from The Royal Marsden Hospital as they enjoyed a science show in the centre’s high-tech, Attenborough Studio.

Prince's speech

In his opening address to more than 300 guests HRH Prince William of Wales said, ‘As the superb new facilities of the Darwin Centre show, the Natural History Museum and the dedicated people who work here are at the very forefront of research, seeking out through study of the natural world the answers to the great questions of our age’.

Prince William examines a mosquito in the molecular lab

Prince William examines a mosquito in the new molecular labs with Dr Yvonne Linton

‘It is such a privilege for me to be asked here today to open the Darwin Centre.'

'The Natural History Museum is one of our great institutions. Its collections, and what it achieves in the areas of research and education make it - quite simply - the envy of the world. This magnificent new wing will further enhance the museum’s peerless reputation.’

Darwin Centre opening

When it opens tomorrow, visitors will share the excitement of exploring, studying and preserving the world with leading scientists. 

Up to 2,500 people a day will travel deep into the eight-storey cocoon to see some of the Natural History Museum’s scientists in action, working in high-tech laboratories, preparing thousands of real specimens and working among 3.3 kilometres of cabinets that hold millions of plants and insects. 

Prince William handles a tarantula in the Darwin Centre

Prince William handles a large Mexican red-knee tarantula during his opening tour in the Darwin Centre

Through a diverse daily programme of events, new public gallery and high-tech installations, visitors will have an uninhibited snapshot into these once concealed spaces at the Museum.

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough paid homage to the Natural History Museum’s ability to inspire and inform. He said, ‘Never has it been so important to understand the diversity of life on Earth and how it is changing, if we are to tackle many of the issues that humans face today.'

'The Darwin Centre will inspire the next generation of naturalists and scientists through its combination of scientific expertise, specimens, public dialogue, film and interactive media. It will enable all of us to explore the wonders of our world and investigate its secrets.’

UK Prime Minister

The Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, Prime Minister said, ‘I am delighted to see this exciting new part of the Natural History Museum open its doors. We are absolutely committed to investment in science in this country and our ambition to deliver the next generation of world-class scientists.'

Caterpillar dancer part of the opening display

Caterpillar dancer part of the opening display

'This innovative new centre, with its high-tech facilities and first-rate research is a fantastic example of this. The Darwin Centre is certain to engage the public on some of the great challenges facing our planet and inspire the young scientists of the future.’

Museum Director

Dr Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, comments, ‘The Natural History Museum is a world leader on research into the burning issues facing humans and the natural world.' 

'Through the collections we look after, and the scientific expertise in our staff, we work with many organisations to inspire an understanding of the natural world, to help conserve its extraordinary richness and diversity, with groundbreaking projects in 68 countries.

‘In the Darwin Centre we highlight this work and the vital importance of understanding nature, our planet and its impact on all our lives, personally, locally and globally.'

'There will be nowhere else in the world where the public can engage with the science of nature on this scale and we hope the Darwin Centre will change perceptions of what museums of natural history can be.'

'It is an awe-inspiring new building for both scientists and the public, inviting everyone to explore the natural world in an exciting and innovative way.’

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