Wednesday, 1 April 2009

A "strange" museum in the heart of Hanoi

In late 2009, a collection of wild plants and insects are to be displayed at Hanoi Botanical Garden. There are expected 200 plant specimens and 100 insect specimens in this special museum.

A small-sized forest

Doctor Duong Duc Tien from the Biotech Centre, the owner of the project, said: "The project of constructing the first biological garden in Hanoi has the purpose of giving tourists a place of display after visiting President Ho Chi Minh's Vestiges Area. The collection will include all species of plants and insects in Vietnam."

Accordingly, scientists will select about 200 plants typical of Hanoi such as African mahogany, banaba tree, milkwood pine, legumes. These specimen are divided into two units, one exhibited in the glass cabinets and one in closed boxes. Besides plants, this collection also covers 100 specimen of insects (butterflies, beetles found in tropical forest in greater Hanoi and surrounding provinces, specifically Cuc Phuong National Park). Insect specimens are also divided into two units, one for display and one for research.

Doctor Tien added that: "There are various species of plants and insects. Many of them are so identical that they usually cause misunderstandings. The collections, therefore, give visitors a chance to watch and explore the variety of plants, insects of Vietnam's diverse nature."

"Personal profiles"

Doctor Tran Hop from HCMC University of Sciences, who is charge of collecting the specimens, informed that these specimen are made according to international standards. To big trees, there are required such parts as feet, roots and even pollen and resin. To smaller plants, the specimens are required to include all parts like flowers, leaves, branches, buds, roots and trunks. When the specimen are available, they are put on four-fold paper. This arrangement is not easy as scientists have to place specimens on both sides. Then they use clamps to hold the specimens tight. The wrapping paper is replaced everyday to avoid mould. After 3-4 days of pressure, the specimen are steeped in chemicals and then dried.

To insects, the procedures are more complex. First insects are caught using rackets and flashlights. After capturing, each individual are places in triangle envelopes (to butterflies) and 90 degree alcohol boxes (to beetles). Then the specimens are fixed and presented in wooden shelves. The next step is processing in chemicals for stability and long-time storage.

At present, scientists are in the process of collecting the specimens. It is expected that the collection will be displayed in the year of 2009 at the Botanical Garden. Specimens are displayed in an area of 200 square metres, and put in glass cabinets to avoid collision and stealth. Each specimen will have its own document profiling the name, origin, distribution and scientific values.

The collection is expected to bring the visitors relaxing moments to integrate themselves with the nature and explore the exotic nature. This collection also make some contribution to decorating the capital ahead of the Great Anniversary.

Translated from New Hanoi

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