• Silke Lauenstein

The experiment.

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Natural History Museum Bavaria (NaMu). The Free State of Bavaria would only support the museum project if the population itself covered one percent of the construction costs. Princess Auguste of Bavaria accepted the challenge. Now their initiative seems to be crowned with success.

"In five to six years, there will be a place here with international appeal. Children and adults learn basic knowledge as well as the latest findings from the geosciences, humanities and environmental sciences. Exciting research work can be seen live. We're sparking enthusiasm for the natural sciences." When Princess Auguste of Bavaria talks about the project Naturkundemuseum Bayern, she formulates it in the indicative. The subjunctive no longer occurs.

"Without the commitment of the Förderkreis Naturkundemuseum Bayern (NaMu), its numerous supporters and generous donors it would not have come this far", the married princess zur Lippe-Weißenfeld makes clear. Since November 2011, the biologist, who holds a doctorate, has been working for this cause as the 1st chairwoman of the non-profit association. "They must be able to burn for a topic, convince, invest a lot of time, accept defeats and persistently continue. Then you have a chance," says the 34-year-old, explaining the success of her initiative. "Our topic is enthusiastic, but in need of explanation. Even the unwieldy word 'natural history museum' suffers from a dusty image. Once it's clear what range we're aiming for with the museum, the doors are open."

After NaMu was able to present donations of about 850000 Euro as well as numerous supporting members and supporters after less than twelve months, the Bavarian parliament approved the planning costs of two million Euro in December 2012. The Förderkreis announced an architectural competition. In March 2014, the winners, Staab Architekten from Berlin, presented their model. "From more than 30 submitted suggestions, the jury was convinced by the particularly successful independent museum architecture, which nevertheless blends harmoniously into the historical palace complex. The planners also optimally fulfilled all the criteria for the exhibition rooms," says the initiator.

In the coming months, fundraising will again be on the agenda of the young mother more often. "The architectural framework is in place, now the focus is on the content and pedagogical details of the museum. Of the estimated 84 million euros total costs for the project, around 14 million euros have been calculated for the equipment - not exactly luxurious. The more supporters we can continue to win, the more difficult it is for us to present the sciences. So now is the ideal time for partners and sponsors to get involved and get involved." It is particularly important to her to make it clear in discussions with business and potential sponsors: "This is not lobbying. The founding director, who will be appointed in the near future, will be responsible for the elaboration of the contents and the presentation of the topics".

In addition to acquiring major sponsors, the association also supports those responsible in the Ministry of Science, the State Natural Science Collections and the museums during the conception phase. The Förderkreis brings experts together to discuss this issue. For example, he is organizing a congress for brain researchers, at which, among other things, the topics for the museum will be structured. Or he is involved in realizing a collaboration with a unique research project that will be groundbreaking in terms of animal research and species protection. In addition, the Bavarian state government has taken up the cause of creating a Bavaria-wide educational network in the course of the new Museum of Natural History in Munich. Regional museums in Nördlingen, Eichstätt, Bayreuth and Bamberg with their unique showpieces should be closely linked to the Museum of Natural History in Munich.

The state government intends to make further money available for the expansion and conversion as well as the technical equipment of the branch museums, but the Förderkreis is keeping a close eye on their conceptual integration. "After all, it is important to bring museum pedagogy and technology into harmony. The appropriate overall pedagogical concept for the implementation of the contents will be determined in a special call for tenders. We want to offer the highest level of education and technology." In addition to imparting basic knowledge, current research results would be incorporated into the presentation on an ongoing basis. "Visitors should be able to take knowledge with them and remain networked with us. Schools should link directly to us and be able to use information for their lessons. We are already talking to publishers and software companies about this," reports the tireless chairwoman.

It is a long list of tasks that Auguste of Bavaria and the Förderkreis have yet to complete in the coming months. She is particularly looking forward to one measure in particular: in October, an ideas competition will start at schools in three age groups. "Since one of the largest target groups is children and their parents, we also want to include them in the planning. It will be the pupils' task to design a possible area of the future museum. You will receive a selection of themes in which, as described in the museum concept, the relationship to man can always be established: man as matter, man as organism, and man as spiritual being and creator. We are looking forward to the proposals of the future researchers."

Construction will begin as soon as the Bavarian parliament gives the go-ahead for the budget negotiations in autumn 2014. By 2020 at the latest, the doors will open to a new way of experiencing the natural sciences. "To become," says Auguste of Bavaria. ®

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