Munich: New plans for the Biotopia – Munich

The Biotopia plans lay on hold for two years. The package for the new natural history museum in the Nymphenburg Palace was put together and all that was needed was the approval of the state parliament’s budget committee to launch the ambitious project. But the “Go” didn’t come.

It is now clear that the project as originally conceived will not be implemented. Because of the money, “due to the explosion in construction costs, the initial sum has risen from 95 million to a mid three-digit million amount now,” explains Science and Art Minister Markus Blume (CSU) on request.

In addition, the Biotopia project “very polarized” – preservationists expressed concerns that the planned new building could not fit in with the castle ensemble, residents feared even more traffic than at the castle roundabout anyway. “Everything got stuck,” said the minister. “That’s why we have to set it up again now.” In other words, the construction project that was previously planned in one go is to be split up. First, a new replacement building will be built, then the old building will be completely renovated. At the same time, the project is given a new focus.

“Our first premise was to keep the Museum of Man and Nature open in its current premises until at least 2028,” says Blume. “My promise is: There is not a day without this museum.” Premise number two: “We’ll show the best we have there.” The best from the previous museum, but also from the Bavarian State Natural Science Collections and from the Biotopia concept. As the minister puts it, this will create “a window displaying Bavaria’s outstanding treasures”.

The inclusion of the Natural History Museum in January in the umbrella organization State Natural Science Collections, which also includes the Botanical Garden and the Museum Mineralogia (formerly the Kingdom of Crystals), is a completely new approach. One that aims to further develop the public hit Man and Nature into a research museum. An important side effect is that this can ultimately result in federal and state funding if the project is integrated into the museums of the Leibniz Research Foundation.

According to Blume, the Biotopia lighthouse project will not be shelved. And the minister emphasizes that the new planning does not want to start “from scratch again”. “The high demands placed on the new museum as well as its outstanding location and its basic structural concept will be retained.” The new Bavarian Natural History Museum should be “a real highlight with national and international standards, on a par with the Deutsches Museum, just in the field of life and environmental sciences”. The interim solution in the current Museum of Man and Nature offers the opportunity to test this exhibition concept – “quasi as a real laboratory of the new Bavarian Natural History Museum”. The plans are currently being adapted, and at the same time attempts are being made to contain and equalize costs.

The minister had promised a “good solution for everyone”.

As optimistic as all of this sounds – the Biotopia team remains skeptical. It’s been on hold for two years now. Some employees – and with them their expertise – have already left. The fixed-term contracts for the remaining 13 expire at the latest at the end of the year.

Blume had already promised the science troop a “good solution for everyone” last fall. But so far nothing has been agreed. When asked, Blume now says he wants to speak to the employees “soon”. “The basic decision for Biotopia also means that the positions will be made permanent. However, the decision will only be anchored in the next budget.” So probably in the spring of 2024.

The minister is silent on the extent of the financial damage caused by the delay and the change in plan. It also remains unclear how things will continue in detail. The new plans should be presented before the summer holidays.

The local politicians of the Neuhausen-Nymphenburg district committee have been actively involved in the development of the planned Biotopia Museum in recent years and are “angry and very surprised” at the innovations. Their demand: to continue to be closely involved in the project in the future. The citizens’ representatives are still sticking to their demand for a traffic report, which they have been making for years.

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