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Seychelles' Natural History Museum will house staff while renovation is completed by July 2024

Victoria, Seychelles | March 18, 2024, Monday @ 15:21 in National » GENERAL | By: Alisa Uzice Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 5281
Seychelles' Natural History Museum will house staff while renovation is completed by July 2024

Natural History Museum has been closed for the past few years. (Seychelles News Agency) 

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The 114-year-old Carnegie building, in which the Natural History Museum was located, is being restored with its original facade and will be shared by staff of the museum and the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade.

Located in the centre of the capital Victoria, not far from the Victoria Clock tower, the building was constructed first as a public library in 1910. Over the years, it served different functions and more recently it housed the Natural History Museum for 21 years until it closed down for repairs in April 2019.

The executive director for Acquisition, Conservation, Research and Access to Information Julienne Barra, said through the renovation the façade of the building will be restored to how it was originally when it was built in 1920.

"A perimeter veranda is being added to restore the building to its original structure. The walls will be re-plastered and there will be a new roof, new doors  and windows. The floor layouts will be modified to fit the office use purpose. The parking at the back will be converted to covered parking with a concrete slab on which the heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment will be located so that the aesthetics of the building is not affected," she added.

At the time of its closure, the museum had over 6,000 displays and specimens in sections on botany, zoology, geology and anthropology. It hosted exhibitions that not only illustrate the flora, fauna and geological history of Seychelles but serve to enlighten visitors about major environmental concerns to promote positive attitudes and actions in conserving  natural heritage.

The principal secretary for the Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts (SNICHA), Cecile Kalebi, told SNA that after the major renovation works are completed, the Public Accounts Management section and the Integrated Financial Management Information System of the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade will occupy a floor. The staff of the National History Museum will be occupying the ground floor.

"For the time being staff of the Natural History Museum have been moved to the ex-Magistrate court building and all the museum specimens, objects and other materials are being stored properly in a space which has been designed to meet standards and requirements for the preservation of the collection," said the executive director for Acquisition, Conservation, Research and Access to Information, Julienne Barra.

As for the museum, Barra, said, "A new project to develop a Natural and Maritime History project is being conceptualised and will be presented to government next year."

She said that the Carnegie is a very old building so there was a need for continuous restoration and conservation that would protect and maintain the building in its current state, or to prevent further damage and deterioration to the building.

"In 2019, staff were complaining that the building is no longer conducive and safe for them and that they needed more space to implement their educational programme," Barra explained. 

She said that although the Natural History Museum has been closed for the past few years, the staff have continued to implement educational and outreach programmes.

"Staff of the Natural History Museums have embarked on several projects such as the ongoing process of containing, organising and caring for the collection while it is in storage. This involves evaluating and implementing strategies and techniques to improve the condition and long-term preservation of the collection," said Barra.

Other programmes include 'Museum in a Box' to bring physical museum objects closer to the audiences. The museum objects are placed in a box and they travel with them outside the museum walls and it provides exciting hands-on and mind-on lessons. It also provides support for teachers with their lessons and brings the museum closer to the community.

The renovation works are still ongoing and Barra said only 19 percent of the work has been completed and the forecast for the completion is July 2024. 

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Tags: Carnegie building, Natural History Museum

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