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A new era for nature: Bundestag approves 660 million Euro for the development of Berlin's Museum of Natural History

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Press release,

Today afternoon, the Budget Committee of the Bundestag, in consultation with the State of Berlin, discussed the future of the Museum of Natural History, Leibniz Institute for Evolutionary and Biodiversity Research. All partners agreed to support the development of the Museum für Naturkunde with an additional 660 million Euro over the next 10 years. This will enable a complete renewal of the 19th century buildings and the development of an integrated research and public engagement campus, with national and international partners, around the themes of nature and society, life sciences and innovation.

The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller said: "The investment of over half a billion Euro by the federal and state governments is a huge milestone in the expansion and renovation of the Museum of Natural History. It will ensure that the Museum of Natural History develops into one of the world's leading natural history museums. Berlin’s outstanding science and research landscape is the key for the future of our city."

Johannes Kahrs, Member of the German Bundestag (MdB) and SPD Chair in the Federal Budget Committee: "I am so proud that we have, in our third attempt, finally succeeded in securing the financing for the renovation of this magnificent museum. I am immensely grateful to Berlin and Major Michael Müller for having secured the co-funding.  Simply beautiful!”

Swen Schulz, Member of the German Bundestag (MdB): "The Museum für Naturkunde is scientifically excellent and already a crowd-pleaser. In the future, so much more is now possible. That's why we want to use federal funds to further develop the museum, expand the exhibition space for the unique collection, and thereby further boosting Berlin’s already great attractiveness."

Developing this campus, the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, together with its national and international partners, will be able to address some of the grande challenges of the 21st century: biodiversity loss, climate change and sustainable development, through its science and in co-creation with society. The re-shaping of the organization will lead to an internationally networked, open and integrated research museum, focusing on nature, evolution, one health, life science and society. Our new or re-furbished estate will allow the museum to continue to excel at its cutting-edge research, to develop its collection developments as a global scientific infrastructure and to better serve its communities – locally and globally. "We are over the moon. These € 660M (c. $760M) are one of the biggest investments in natural history museums globally. Research museums link science, humanities, cultures and society in a unique way, acting as conveners, mediators and innovators in supporting democracy and the global knowledge society.  We are so honoured by the immense trust the Bundestag and the city state of Berlin is vesting in our future vision for our museum. ," said Director General Johannes Vogel. "This shows the great confidence in our work and our excellent and committed staff. " Stephan Junker, Managing Director of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, adds: "This significant financial contribution allows for reliable planning which is needed to develop a science and society campus over the next 10 years. We are proud to do this with our national and international partners, but first and foremost with the Humboldt University of Berlin and the Leibniz Association.”

The improvement and restauration of the main and adjoining buildings enable the Museum,

1. to preserve the internationally unique, valuable collections as national, cultural and global heritage for posterity,

2. to further develop the collections as a modern information and research infrastructure and to make them digitally accessible worldwide,

3. to aim for  leading  international  role in the fields of environmental sciences, biodiversity and knowledge transfer ,

4. to turn our research and collections  into a tangible experience for visitors or citizen scientists. Thus, the Museum will not only inspire society, but also allow it to participate in research more than before, as well as try out new forms of participation and exhibition formats,

5. to develop the exhibitions as a global tourist attraction .

The Museum für Naturkunde Berlin has already proven that it can carry out such large-scale construction projects successfully, as shown for example, by the renovation of the east wing including the wet collection as a globally unique, ultra-modern and complex research infrastructure.

Background information:

Founded in 1810 as an integral part of the old Berlin University, the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin quickly developed into the national scientific centre for collections and records of all natural history subjects and their research in Germany. In a central location in the capital, it has survived the eventful recent history with damage but with regard to its irreplaceable collections in large parts unscathed, and the building has been renovated and repaired in first important parts since German reunification. The Museum für Naturkunde Berlin has been a member of the Wissenschaftsgemeinschaft Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz e.V. since 1 January 2009 and is under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (MfN) is an integrated research museum. Its research and infrastructure is globally connected. The Museum’s collections comprise over 30 million specimens that are used by scientists from a wide variety of disciplines, but especially to deepen research into the evolution of life and the earth. Topics include the evolution of the solar system, evolutionary mechanisms and the diversity of life on earth. In addition, our archives and collections are studied in relation to the history and sociology of science, their cultural or artistic significance and inspiration. Our interdisciplinary research contributes to current debate, communicating results, passing on insights, but also urging an urgent need for societal change. The MfN wants to be Germany’s voice for nature, offering a platform for an exchange with various players in science, policy, economy and society. We are supporting citizen science projects as well as interdisciplinary events.

In its meeting, the budget committee of the Bundestag voted to support the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin with €330 million in the implementation of its comprehensive future plans, including a science and society campus. The State of Berlin will match this contribution. A total of 660 million Euro will be available to the museum for its development over the next 10 years, making this one of the biggest investments in natural history globally.