Impressive natural history museum offers food for thought

My family and I were impressed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum during our recent visit. We have indeed built a world-class natural history museum equal to the best of those in the United States and Britain.

I was filled with nostalgia upon seeing the well-preserved exhibits, some of which I probably saw as an undergraduate in the Faculty of Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS) nearly 30 years ago.

I was especially drawn to a letter signed by the head of the biology department of the former Nanyang University, offering its specimens to the University of Singapore to be placed in the zoological collection in the newly formed NUS in 1980.

Seeing the earth's biodiversity, both extinct and extant, brought home to me that we are all connected and interdependent in the web of life since it first arose more than three billion years ago.

I was also subdued by the tenuousness and fragility of life, as there have been five major extinction events since then, with up to 96 per cent of species wiped out.

We are believed to be in the midst of the sixth, termed the Anthropocene, to reflect mankind's role in causing climate change due to our unsustainable consumption of fossil fuels. Will we also meet the same fate as the majority of earth's species? If we do, then we will only have ourselves to blame.

The dinosaurs are, of course, the star exhibits. As I gazed at the skeletons of what would have been huge, majestic creatures that walked the earth more than 65 million years ago, I was reminded of how we, Homo sapiens, might not have evolved if an asteroid had not serendipitously unleashed the fifth great extinction that ended the dinosaurs' 200 million-year reign.  

However, we found the multi-coloured lighting too garish during the visual show. Perhaps the museum could project the prehistoric vistas during the time of the dinosaurs for a more immersive and educational experience.

Fate seemed to have pre-destined us to have our own natural history museum, especially with the requisite dinosaur bones, the acquisition of which Professor Leo Tan called a synchronicity ("Psst... want to buy a dinosaur?"; June 27). 

We are also fortunate to be the beneficiaries of so many generous donors, as well as of the vision and hard work of the key people involved in making our very own natural history museum a reality. 

 

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)