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Work starts on new museum

CONSTRUCTION of the new Shanghai Museum of Natural History began in the Jing'an Sculpture Park yesterday.

The 1.2 billion yuan (US$175 million) project is expected to open to the public in late 2012 when it takes the place of the current one on Yan'an Road E.

The price of admission hasn't been determined. But Wang Xiaoming, director of the affiliated Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, said, "The world tendency is that more museums are free of charge."

"A museum is a public treasure that should be enjoyed by all the people," Wang said.

The 18-meter-high building will be in the shape of a spiral, like a nautilus shell, and contain 35,000 square meters of display space.

It will also have a 15-meter underground display area that will connect with a future Metro Line 13 station.

Many items in the current museum will be moved to the new building.

"The largest exhibit, a huge dinosaur skeleton in the existing museum, will definitely be moved to the new museum as well as many famous items like mummies," said Gu Jiansheng, a vice director of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. "The existing museum holds precious memories for many local people, and the new museum will keep its historic relics."

The existing facility, which opened in 1956 and moved to its current location on Yan'an Road E. in 1958, is one of the nation's largest museums of natural sciences. But it hasn't received major renovation since the 1950s.

The current museum has a collection of 260,000 items, including rare species unique to China. But the displays haven't changed for many years, and the poor facilities have caused problems with many precious specimens, some of which have been put into storage for protection.

The location also doesn't have adequate parking.


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