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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Queen opens Darwin Centre
Darwin Centre, The Natural History Museum
The specimens are held in 450,000 jars
The Queen admired millions of preserved creatures from across the world at the Natural History Museum's new 95m Darwin Centre on Tuesday.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, she officially opened the centre, in South Kensington, London, which houses 22 million zoology specimens.

The centre is the first phase of a major development at the Natural History Museum that will open up many parts of its collection previously hidden in storage.

Of the 70 million items held in the museum's entire collection, there is only room to put 1% on display.

British barracuda

When both phases of the development are completed almost 80% of items will be on display for the public.

In the Darwin Centre specimens previously only seen by researchers and curators have gone on show.

They range from animals collected by Darwin on his 19th Century voyages, to a barracuda found in British waters last year.

The royal visitors saw how the new centre helps safeguard the museum's collection for the future.

Museum chairman Lord Oxburgh told the guests that the previous facilities for specimens was an "awful old building".

"We can now house priceless specimens in confidence and safety and visitors are able to see for the first time the vastness of the collection and learn how they are preserved."

Phase two of the redevelopment will open its doors to visitors in 2007, and house 28 million insects and six million plants.


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See also:

24 Sep 02 | Science/Nature
16 Nov 99 | Science/Nature
01 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
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