Nieuws - 23 februari 2012

New Isric soil museum will dig deep

The Wageningen soil centre Isric is finally getting a museum again. A final decision is expected within a few weeks on the new premises, to be located between Gaia and Lumen.

The new museum's main function will be to support science but it will also be targeting a wider audience, says museum consultant Hiske Land. ‘It is a scientific collection that serves as a reference for soil scientists all around the world. That is the essence of the collection. But that doesn't rule out an additional function for the general public.' Land (historian and archaeologist) has been hired to set up a new, viable museum.
Isric has had to survive for 18 months without a full-blown museum. At the end of 2010 the soil scientists suddenly had to leave Duivendaal and move to campus. A small part of the collection has been accessible in Gaia since September last year. That situation will only change when the new building work is finished (see drawing). The museum will be installed between Gaia and Lumen, on the first floor above the new central entrance between the two buildings.
Not a static exhibition
The museum concept will be different in the new building. It is time for a change. Land wants to say goodbye to the static exhibits with soil profiles next to information panels. She wants to reveal the relationship between the soil and life above. The ‘dead' profiles need to come back to life. ‘Soil is the basic ingredient for life but you have to make that clear. You must make the link between the soil and the landscape and land use. It is all about the link between the vertical and the horizontal.'
The old museum used to get about a thousand visitors a year. That number could and should be much bigger. Land says there is much ground to be gained in Wageningen alone. Land: ‘There are an awful lot of degree courses that involve soil. But many students have never visited Isric.' She thinks that is a pity. The same goes for students elsewhere. ‘I studied archaeology. I see here soil types I only knew from pictures when I was doing my degree.'