May 24, 2023
HM Government of Gibraltar is pleased to announce the next stage in the development of museums and heritage services in Gibraltar. The ongoing expansion of galleries, laboratories and storage areas in the Gibraltar National Museum, at its Bomb House Lane premises, has reached saturation after many years of active development. Faced with this problem, government have been in discussion with the managers of the Gibraltar National Museum for the past year, seeking ways of creatively continuing the growth of the museum and heritage services which the latter provides.
For over a decade, the Gibraltar National Museum has been actively researching the natural history value of the site which it also manages, known as Parson’s Lodge. Best known for its historical significance, Parson’s Lodge is also a site of natural history significance as the museum’s research is showing. It is part of the Gibraltar National Park and holds a rich plant and animal community; its strategic position makes it a staging post for migratory birds moving between Africa and Europe; and its proximity to the coastline gives it added value in terms of marine and intertidal biology. Parson’s Lodge is situated on top of a rich fossiliferous vein, known as the Rosia breccias, which were first explored by the Reverend John White in the late eighteenth century. The breccias became internationally known as providing significant evidence of evolutionary processes and are considered a key site in the history of science.
It was logical that a solution to the museum’s expansion problems could be Parson’s Lodge, which will now become the dedicated site to the rich natural history of Gibraltar in the form of the Gibraltar National Museum (Natural History). The premises at Bomb House Lane will be fully dedicated to history and cultural heritage and all aspects of natural history (with the exception of Neanderthal-related exhibits) will be transferred to Parson’s Lodge. This will, in turn, release much-needed space at Bomb House Lane.
The development of the Parson’s Lodge site will be phased over a number of years, following the successful model applied to Bomb House Lane. It is expected that the new Natural History Museum, in its first phase of development, will open to the public in the autumn. The opening hours will be the same as at Bomb House Lane (10am-6pm, Mondays to Fridays; 10 am-2 pm, Saturdays) and access will, as at Bomb House Lane, be free to residents.
Use will be made of the natural assets at the site in turning the new museum into a living museum. There will also be interpretation panels, open air and enclosed exhibits telling the story of our rich natural history. There will be a strong educational element at the site, something which is already well-developed at Bomb House Lane, and already during the summer, in Parson’s Lodge. There will be opportunities to turn this into an interactive museum, with open air lectures and workshops being key components. Even though the focus is on natural history, the important history of the battery and, more widely, of the Rosia Bay area will also be interpreted at the site.
Commenting on the development, Minister with responsibility for Heritage and the Environment Professor John Cortes expressed his delight: “I have been developing the joint heritage-environment potential of Gibraltar, with the expansion of our nature reserve, the development of nature trails, a network of bird migration sites (of which this is one), and finally the creation of our very own National Park. To now have a site dedicated as a museum of natural history would have been unimaginable only a few years ago. I am delighted and I wish to express my gratitude to the managers and staff of the Gibraltar National Museum for working with me so positively to achieve this goal. I sincerely hope that the public will now support this initiative and that tour operators will see the benefits of bringing tourists here. It can be the perfect introduction to a tour of the Upper Rock.”