Construction of a new administrative and ecological center with a Museum of Nature in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, 2008 – 2009

Events, facts, documents and evidence: The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" had a Museum of Nature designed in the original way and kept lots of interesting exhibits. Expositions showing history, fauna and flora of Belovezhskaya Pushcha took place in a small two-storeyed building constructed in 1960. The Museum was situating in the tourist centre near the village of Kamenyuki and was first to meet the visitors of the national park.

The shots below show the old Museum of Nature at front and from the outside.

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(The old Museum of Nature; June 11, 2005)

The plan of preparations for the 600th anniversary of Belovezhskaya Pushcha's nature protection provided for construction of a new administrative and ecological center with a Museum of Nature .

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(The Museum's project. Photo from the
newspaper "Vecherniy Brest" (The Evening Brest))

The new administrative and ecological centre with the Museum constitutes a two-storeyed building of around 5 thousand sq. meters of the combined area with a complicated structure's scheme. It has two separate entrances - into the administrative office and into the Museum of History and Nature of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The ground floor of the centre houses a library with a reading room, conference-hall, museum storage room and a souvenir shop. The Museum is located on the upper floor and includes a few exhibition halls. There are no windows in the Museum. It is made in this way as daylight will cause damage to the Museum's exhibits. The park's administration, basic services and the scientific department are placed in the left part of the building on the ground and first floors. The building is provided with mirror facade and is covered with green metal roof.

The photos below show the basic stages of construction of the new administrative and ecological center with the Museum of Nature.


The administrative and ecological center is located on the left of the former administrative and scientific building reconstructed into the hotel number 4. The plot of about 2 hectares of the best primeval forest with some pine trees of the age between 150 and 200 years was cut down for the building site.

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(The sight of the felled plot as seeing from the hotel number 4; August 10, 2008)
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(The general view of the felled plot; August 10, 2008)
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(Stumps of very old pine trees on the felled plot; August 10, 2008)
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(A stump of a very old spruce tree
on the felled plot; August 10, 2008)
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(Black spots after tree branches being burned; August 10, 2008)
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(A timber after felling being stacked along the access road; August 10, 2008)

The construction of the administrative and ecological centre and the Museum of Nature started in autumn of 2008. The shots below show the process of foundation laying for the future building.

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(An information shield;
1 – November 08, 2008; 2 – May 03, 2009)
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(The foundation laying; November 08, 2008)

The construction of the future administrative and ecological centre and the Museum of Nature is shown in the photos below.

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(The construction of the building; March 01, 2009)
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(The construction of the building; May 03, 2009)
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(Temporary service cabins; 1 – May 03, 2009; 2 and 3 – August 09, 2009)

The constriction comes to the end as seen in these photos.

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(The ending of the construction; August 09, 2009)

That is the view of the administrative and ecological centre and the Museum of Nature on the eve of the 600-the anniversary since nature protection in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

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(The administrative and ecological centre and the Museum of Nature as seeing at the front; September 27, 2009)
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(The administrative and ecological centre and the Museum of Nature as seeing from the side; September 27, 2009)
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(The administrative and ecological centre and the Museum of Nature as seeing from the backside; September 27, 2009)
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(The museum's (1) and administrative office's (2) enters;
September 27, 2009)

The photos below show the area around the administrative and ecological centre and the Museum of Nature which design is partially blended with the surrounded forest. Special lawn-grass is sown everywhere in order to create the effect of the urban-type maintenance and "improvement" of the nature.

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(Stone foot-paths at the entrance to the area of the administrative and
ecological centre; September 27, 2009)
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(The area at the front of the building; September 27, 2009)
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(The maintained area around the new center; September 27, 2009)
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(Monotonous green lawns; September 27, 2009)
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(Flower-beds; September 27, 2009)

The photos below show the administrative and ecological centre and the Museum of Nature in the late autumn of 2009.

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(The administrative and ecological centre and the Museum of Nature in late autumn; November 14, 2009)

The photos below show the administrative and ecological centre and the Museum of Nature in winter of 2010.

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(The administrative and ecological centre and the Museum of Nature in winter; January 02, 2010)

Some elements of the expositions inside of the Museum of Nature at the initial stage of their creation

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(The entrance to the first floor of the Museum of Nature; September 2009)
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(Historical expositions of the Museum; September 2009)
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(Natural expositions of the Museum; September 2009)

Conclusion. Of course, the fact of creation of the new and modern administrative and ecological centre with the Museum of Nature is a remarkable event in itself for the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". The old Museum of Nature had to be under modernization and renovation of expositions a long time ago. The creators of the new centre have applied last technical achievement and best experiences in architecture and design used for the construction of other museums of Europe. New historical expositions have been created in the Museum and those acquainting the visitors with the nature of Belovezhskaya Pushcha have essentially been renovated. The ecological and ecosystem approach which allows providing the ecological education for tourists at a higher level has been taken as a basis of the natural expositions. Thanks to it the numerous positive responses addressed to the new Museum have not kept long waiting.

Nevertheless, the project has a number of weaknesses.
First, the plot of the relic forest had to be felled for creation of the administrative and ecological centre with the Museum of Nature, that means to reduce the surface of Belovezhskaya Pushcha for a few hectares.
Secondly, the old Museum of Nature was earlier first to meet tourists and in this way it formed their first emotional impression from visiting of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Now a restaurant is first to meet tourists, then a hotel, and finally the Museum of Nature being last in this line because it is situated in the depth of the tourist centre.
Thirdly, the mirror windows of the facade proved to be disastrous for many birds as they are simply killed when striking their body against the glass because not seeing the barrier.
And fourthly, the scientific department evicted from its laboratories 6 years ago has suffered because a few small rooms were given to it in the new administrative building instead of the former spacious and roomy one. Such situation promotes neither the good work of the scientific team at the modern high standards, nor solving the complex ecological and administrative tasks which the scientific department must deal with.

Before to build the new administrative and ecological centre with the Museum of Nature, the various variants of its placing were offered. They included to build it in the administrative area of the National Park – in the village of Kamenyuki at the place of the house of culture recently blown up. Such decision, incorporated with the idea of construction of the new house of culture and associated with the united administrative, scientific, eco-educational and cultural centre, would allow to follow the integrated approach and to avoid the negative issues mentioned above. In this case there would be two problems: first, all have got used the memory during 40 years that the scientific and eco-educational centre is situated within the relic forest of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and second, the administration of the national park with all its businesses would be in full view of the public. As the result, the variant described above was chosen…