Mexico City, Oct 5 (EFE).- The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) on Tuesday inaugurated a new interactive space known as the Biodiversity Pavilion, which was donated by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s foundation and includes research areas and the collections of UNAM’s Institute of Biology.
“It responds to the need to expand the space for storing national biological collections,” Susana Magallon, the director of that institute, said during a tour of the museum.
The goal is to inspire children and young people to pursue degree programs related to biodiversity conservation and biology and showcase the country’s diversity, she said.
A unique space in Latin America, the Biodiversity Pavilion serves a dual role as both museum and research center and houses more than 130,000 species in a 12,000-square-meter (129,000-square-foot) space.
“This building is unique within UNAM for actively combining museum and research” activities, Magallon said.
She explained that in addition to its exhibition rooms the Biodiversity Pavilion will feature research areas divided into four national biological collections (fish, amphibians and reptiles, birds and mammals) and bringing together around 30 academics.
The pavilion also will boast a genome sequencing and molecular biology laboratory where studies will be conducted to obtain organisms’ DNA and DNA sequences for comparison with other organisms – research that will provide insight into evolutionary relationships and processes.
The new institution will house a collection of millions of pieces, including insects, butterflies and plants from the university’s entire collection, as well as a historical archive with documents on biodiversity that range from the 19th century to the present, Institute of Biology researcher Daniel Barreto said.
The pavilion was donated by the Carlos Slim Foundation and, according to that organization, cost between 200-250 million pesos ($9.7-12.1 million) and took over two years to build.
“We sought to house the Institute of Biology’s collection” and take advantage of its location inside the pavilion to bring attention to the institute’s research activities, said Fernanda Ahumada, head of building architecture at Slim’s Grupo Carso conglomerate and the leader of the pavilion project.
Javier Elguea Solis, education director at the Carlos Slim Foundation, said it was a source of pride to “partner with UNAM on this education and environmental conservation project,” adding that the opening of the Biodiversity Pavilion will coincide with the resumption of in-person classes at that Mexico City-based university. EFE