Gibraltar’s new Natural History Museum is now open for visitors, both residents and tourists, in its specially developed Parson’s Lodge location.
According to the government, the museum is the next stage in the development of museums and heritage services in Gibraltar. “For over a decade, the Gibraltar National Museum has been actively researching the natural history value of the site which it also manages, known as Parson’s Lodge. Best known for its historical significance, Parson’s Lodge is also a site of natural history significance as the museum’s research is showing.
“It is part of the Gibraltar National Park and holds a rich plant and animal community; its strategic position makes it a staging post for migratory birds moving between Africa and Europe; and its proximity to the coastline gives it added value in terms of marine and intertidal biology.”
Parson’s Lodge is situated on top of a rich fossiliferous vein known as the Rosia breccias, which was first explored by the Reverend John White in the late 18th century. “The breccias became internationally known as providing significant evidence of evolutionary processes and are considered a key site in the history of science. In fact, one of the terraces at Parson’s Lodge is dedicated to the Reverend White. Two others are dedicated to Victorian naturalists who made important contributions to the study of Gibraltar’s natural history: Willoughby Verner and Howard Irby.”
Development of the Parson’s Lodge site will be phased over several years. During the first phase the museum will be open from Mondays to Fridays between 10am and 6pm, and Saturdays from 10am till 2pm. The museum will also be available for opening additional hours if requested by tour operators.
Commenting on the official opening, caretaker minister for heritage and the environment John Cortes said, “I have been developing the joint heritage-environment potential of Gibraltar, with the expansion of our nature reserve, the development of nature trails, a network of bird migration sites (of which this is one), and finally the creation of our very own National Park. To now have a site dedicated as a museum of natural history would have been unimaginable only a few years ago.
“I am delighted and I wish to express my gratitude to the managers and staff of the Gibraltar National Museum for working with me so positively to achieve this goal. I sincerely hope that the public will now support this initiative and that tour operators will see the benefits of bringing tourists here. It can be the perfect introduction to a tour of the Upper Rock.”
Over the past month the government has made a series of other announcements reporting major improvements and renovations to some of the Rock’s iconic sites.