In the few past years ISRIC has worked on the realisation of an exciting project, the construction of an eye-catching building for the World Soil Museum. When ISRIC moved to the Gaia-building on the Wageningen UR campus in 2010, the world soil museum moved to a temporary exhibition room in the Gaia building, pending the construction of new permanent accommodation on the campus. Construction of the new building on the Wageningen University Campus, which has the shape of a sod of soil, was finalized in 2013. The outside walls of the building are coated with clay loam to give the building a natural soil appearance.
The museum displays a selection of ISRIC’s unique collection of soil monoliths, which forms the nucleus of the museum. Eighty soil profiles are on show at the new World Soil Museum located on Wageningen campus. To enlarge its soil reference collection of over 1000 profiles, ISRIC recently collected soil samples from sites in Russia, Morrocco, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Jordan and Ghana. ‘It is unique that we can show so many soil profiles from around the world, says ISRIC researcher Stephan Mantel. ‘Most soil museums only have profiles from their own region. Which is understandable because collecting soil samples in other parts of the world is an expensive undertaking. That we can even expand our unique collection is a great opportunity.’
Visitors may experience the role of soils in life and ecosystems in the museum and get an impression of the enormous variation of soil types around the world; from the deep and black soil from the Russian steppe to the puddled rice soil from the Philippines. The world soil museum aims at different visitor groups: secondary school students, (soil) scientists, students of universities and colleges, and the general public.
The data from ISRIC, the ICSU World Data Centre for Soils, on the global soil resources are brought into the museum through multi-media facilities that include tablets, touch screens and a large digital map viewing table. Six stations are placed in the museum that provide information on the following subjects: food production, soil and water, land degradation and conservation, soils and landscape, soils and biodiversity, and soils and climate change.
The new World Soil Museum has been officially opened on April 7th, 2014.