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Natural History Museum struggles amid COVID

Over the years, the museum has collected around 55,000 specimens, but can only display about 10,000 specimens due to lack of space.

2022 Jan 10, 7:19,

Ganesh Bahadur Thapa, Chief of Natural History Museum, was appointed in 2020 with the hope to develop the scene of the museum. However, due to COVID, the whole nation was in lockdown which affected the museum’s infrastructure as there was no earning and all of the plans were on hold.

“While Tribhuvan University (TU) provided salaries to the workers, there is still a lack of capital for the maintenance of the museum,” says Thapa.

Ganesh Bahadur Thapa, Chief of National History Museum.
Ganesh Bahadur Thapa, Chief of National History Museum.

Established in 1976, Natural History Museum is one of the few museums in Nepal that preserves local herbs, plants, and even endangered species. Explaining why these museums are important, Thapa says, “Our country is full of cultural heritage, natural herbs, and wildlifes. If we preserve these particular aspects, it will help with different studies and research. But sadly the situation is worse than most of the TU-associated governmental colleges." “It has been more than 40 years since the museum was established. While this place should have been more developed, the lockdown stopped the little bit of progress we had going," he adds.

The museum preserves the species in a traditional way however, the work has become harder as they do not have any technician to look over the halls. Thapa explains, “We are yet to get permission from the government to put advertisements in the media for technicians as they might believe that we do not need one due to lockdown technicians. But these are the times when technicians are needed the most. Since we are using traditional methods which increases the chances of it lasting long. Special methods like caffeination chambers are needed to preserve some rare and endangered species.”.

However, these are not the only problems this museum is facing. Over the years, they have collected around 55,000 specimens, but the museum can only display about 10,000 specimens due to lack of space.

“When a researcher finds a rare species it is kept in the Natural history Museum but we do not have enough space. When the Parliament declared that some of the artifacts of Narayanhiti Museum and Singha Durbar should be placed here, we could not do so due to lack of space,” explains Thapa.

The Natural History Museum is also a scientific institution where they train interns and researchers. They play an important role in verifying the condition of goods and determining whether the species are endangered, or rare. “National park committee has to call us first for the verification of the species,” says Thapa.

But sadly these collections are in a vulnerable state as most of them are decaying on the shelf. While the collection could get worldwide, the preservation is not up to the mark. Thapa adds,

“We have many valuable things like RD skeleton, fossils that other researchers are still looking for. Our former kings used to go on hunts, we have taxidermy of those species as well.”

“As a zoology professor for 23years, with the aim of improving the museum. I feel sad to admit the present condition of the museum.” adds Thapa.

While the present situation of the museum is not up to the mark, Thapa has lots of plans for the development of the place. “We are planning to build a hall and a molecular laboratory. Along with the physical studies we also need DNA study. But we need as much manpower in the museum as possible. So, if someone has done a postdoctoral (Phd) in the specific subject they can join our team.”


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