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The Natural History Museum in Palestine



From: Christian Media Center

12 May 2015

Mazen Qumsieh has signed an agreement with the University of Bethlehem to create a natural history museum in Palestine.
Archaeology, Culture, and other Religions

An agreement between the Palestinian scientist Mazen Qumsieh and Peter Bray, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bethlehem, has led to the creation of a of natural history museum in Palestine. Qumsieh and his wife have made a substantial donation, while the University has provided the venue and contributed to its infrastructure.

The establishment of the museum was Mazen Qumsieh’s dream, who in his academic career was very successful at various American universities. When he returned home, he gathered a group of volunteers with whom he surveyed the Palestinian landscape in order to record and research the local wildlife.

The museum was also the desire of the ecology scholar Sana Atallah, who discovered many animals in the Palestinian and Arab landscape; his project was interrupted when, in a tragic car accident, he lost his life while he was in Iran on business.

Director, Museum of Natural History, Palestine
“The garden we have is made up of original plants, and there are insects and animals in it. We should not consider them assets of the museum, because this is a natural oasis in Bethlehem that visitors will be able to see when the museum permanently opens.”

“This section is like a small exhibition, where we place all of the samples we have collected over various trips. We have several specimens of snakes, scorpions, lizards and insects, such as butterflies, beetles, animal fossils or taxidermied animals, like these taxidermied birds here.”

The museum is located in the St. Andrew’s building at the University of Bethlehem, surrounded by an area of 12,000 square meters. The volunteers have been working in recent months to turn it into a garden with facilities for the museum, including a pool for aquatic animals.

“After a month, a month and a half, of volunteering, I became very fond of butterflies and so I began studying them. We are now publishing research on various types of butterflies in Palestine.”

“The idea behind the pool is to have a complete ecosystem, like any other, so that we can have a lively variety of animals and insects and even plants that can live around the pool and that we can use. When we created this pool, we put in specimens found in several places in Palestine. We built a water channel in order to plant some Palestinian plants and to create a natural Palestinian environment.”

‏In little time, the museum got connected with environmental researchers from around the world and also with museums of the same type. Its importance lies not so much in the fact that it is the first of its kind in Palestine, but rather in the fact that it is a pioneer project; in fact, there are independent states near Palestine that have no such specialized museums.

Director, Museum of Natural History, Palestine
“Collaboration is very important. Scientific discoveries are not made alone but together. This is a key part of our strategy, which is also expressed in our respect for others and in our teamwork.”

Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine