BETHLEHEM, April 15, 2017 (WAFA) – The Bethlehem University-based Palestine Museum of Natural History and the botanical gardens that are part of the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) at Bethlehem University opened to the public on Saturday, according to the founders of the project.

The official opening ceremony was held on Wednesday and attended by officials from the Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority, the ministries of agriculture and education, university officials and others.

Bethlehem University Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh, who spearheaded the projects, said at the opening ceremony that work started on this project, which he considers a national accomplishment, in August 2014.

“This is a dream come true to arrive at this stage, a culmination of countless hours and countless volunteers,” he said.

“Our plans going forward are ambitious. We plan to build our PIBS to offer degrees (diplomas and higher degrees) in areas like environmental conservation, permaculture, and museology. We plan a future green museum building of nearly 2000 square meters right here where we are. We plan a mobile museum to go to remote villages,” he said.

In addition, said Qumsiyeh, “We plan to have a virtual tour of the museum so that people around the world can visit Palestine and learn about areas like its fauna, flora, ethnology, history, and the human spirit that guides us. We will develop museum exhibits that are interactive. We will develop an animal rehabilitation unit. We plan to develop our botanical garden to be a permaculture research facility and a place for ex situ conservation of wild plants and some animals threatened with extinction.”