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Now Museums Are Taking Space In Fast-Growing Life Sciences Sector

The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum has leased 320K SF for a new science and digitisation centre at Harwell Campus, a life sciences property in Oxfordshire that is 50% owned by Brookfield

Around 27 million specimens from the Natural History Museum, accounting for about a third of its collection, will be moved to the new centre and digitised to give scientists better access to them, CoStar reported. 

It is the largest chunk of the museum’s collection to have been moved since the 1880s, and the new building’s development has been funded by a £182M investment from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. 

It will be completed in 2026, and the facility will provide collections storage and conservation facilities, digitisation and imaging suites, molecular laboratories, cryo-facilities, high-performance computing clusters and collaborative spaces for the museum’s research and visiting scientists.

Brookfield bought a 50% stake in Harwell from listed UK developer U+I last year; the other 50% is owned by the UK government. 

The big appeal for Brookfield is a master plan to add 5M SF to the existing facilities on the 710-acre campus, increasing its size tenfold. 

“This relocation will release space in our galleries at South Kensington allowing us to share even more of the collection with the public as currently we can only display 1% of our collection at any given time,” Natural History Museum Executive Director of Engagement Clare Matterson said in a statement. “I should also reassure visitors that all of their firm favourites from Guy the Gorilla, Hope the Whale and Sophie the Stegosaurus will continue to have pride of place.”

Harwell Campus Director Angus Horner, one of the people responsible for the growth of Harwell in recent years, emailed peers on Friday to say that he was leaving the campus at the end of this month.