Tuesday April 23, 2024

PMNH finally on way to expansion

March 18, 2024
People pose for a photo outside the Pakistan Museum for Natural History (PMNH). — Facebook/Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH)/File
People pose for a photo outside the Pakistan Museum for Natural History (PMNH). — Facebook/Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH)/File

Islamabad: The country’s only natural history museum Pakistan Museum for Natural History (PMNH) with its collection of around 1.6 million specimens is finally on way to expansion after experiencing a painful sluggish response of authorities during respective regimes.

Since, its establishment in 1976, this project generally remained a picture of neglect with its incomplete structure, when year 2023 proved as fortuitous for PMNH with the government allocating funds for construction of its remaining blocks. The delayed construction of six blocks of this important outfit was a big hurdle in enhancing display of huge collection of unique specimens and expanding its galleries to attract maximum visitors.

But after years, the previous coalition government led by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif finally allocated funds for this project and ensured that same are also released on time. “The construction work of the museum has been started after receiving initial funds out of total Rs500 million allocated for this year. This money would be spent on construction of these blocks,” stated Dr. Khalid Mehmood, who is heading this project in PMNH.

He informed that the contractors have been hired by the Public Works Department during October last year and work has been started. Construction of six blocks would be completed during three years’ time and it would help address the issue of space shortage for displaying more specimen, Dr Khalid said.

Although the science and technology sector in Pakistan witnessed a boom during last few years with its departments diligently focusing on research and innovation, but the Pakistan Museum for Natural History (PMNH) could not get due share of funds to complete construction of its lingering six blocks. The museum comprising only two blocks and delay in their completion since its establishment in 1976 had compelled the PMNH administration to display maximum specimens of natural resources in small rooms and corridors.

Besides providing research facilities to faculties and students, PMNH regularly organizes trainings, workshops, seminars, symposia and other educational interactive activities related to natural history, environment and biodiversity of Pakistan. PMNH has also formed many national and international liaisons with the other research institutes in the country and abroad.

The museum executed a number of research projects of national importance including cooperative development of an innovative auto-ID platform for beetles from China and Pakistan with the cost of Rs. five million, informed DG PMNH, Dr. Saima Tanveer.

“Hazards of wildlife aircrafts strike and their prevention and Biosystematics of Insect Fauna of Khunjerab National Park, Gilgit Baltistan are our two important projects being executed at the cost of Rs4.3 million and Rs4.5 million respectively,” she informed.

The director general also mentioned to projects like development of outdoor volcano display, integration of QR code technology to enable visitors to scan code of the exhibit through their android phone and get all linked information, development of teachers training and STEM Resource Lab and a training program for school kids to teach them about conservation of nature.

“Despite financial constraints, PMNH generated Rs6398.755 million revenue during year 2021-22 through visitors of its galleries,” she said. In all 86,587 visitors including 102,085 students and 658 foreigners visited the facility during this period.

Dr Saima also informed that PMNH has four principal divisions namely Botanical Sciences Division, Earth Sciences Division, Zoological Sciences Division and Public Services Division.

First three scientific divisions are engaged in collection, identification and research activities pertaining to plants, animals, fossils and mineral resources of Pakistan, while fourth one is responsible for mass education and popularization of natural history through various displays, exhibits and dioramas.

Researchers of PMNH carry out extensive field works from the Coast of Arabian Sea to the Alpine Regions, roam through barren areas for collection of Flora and Fauna, Rocks, Fossils and minerals not only for research work but for education also as one of the main objectives of the museum.

Students of schools, colleges and universities all over Pakistan visit PMNH as a part of their educational tours while scientific and technical staff of PMNH facilitate and assist them in their research work by dispensing information, technical assistance and specimens.

PMNH is an attached department of Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF), Ministry of Science and Technology with a designated assignment of collection, preservation and identification of flora fauna, rock, fossils, gems, minerals, etc.

with a two-fold objective of exhibiting these to teach general public and visitors about biodiversity and natural history and conducting research through field study by scientists for identification and cataloguing. The expansion of this facility, after completion of the remaining blocks, will definitely increase the number of visitors and help generate more revenues.