Revisiting Nature at the Museum

Migrant and Refugee Communities Take Part at the Natural History Museum

Nature is not a common topic of discussion for most people, but when people start talking about it, they cannot stop. This is especially the case when it is about how they experienced nature in the place where they came from. This is the experience that many migrants and refugees have when they take part in the cultural and personal stories sharing sessions at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London.

In these sessions, people get the chance to touch real things found in nature like fossils from over millions of years ago, minerals from different parts of the world and the ever popular stuffed animal specimens. The sessions encourage people to think about their past and current experiences and their own relationship with the nature.

These are what some individuals shared:

The hare is known as the clever animal in traditional Zimbabwe’s tales. The owl is known as a witch and devil – A Zimbabwean woman

My parents did not allow me to chew betel nut. They said it is bad for children. – An Indian man

We do not eat pork or any animals with webbed feet for religious purposes. – An Eritrean woman

My son collects worms and builds houses with stones for them. – A  Russian father

It is extremely important for community groups to share what nature means to them because they will help others to understand the wealth of natural resources available to enjoy. Communities can appreciate and be proud of their knowledge of sustainable living and the environment around them. These stories and experiences should be shared with later generations born in the UK so they appreciate the natural environment of their ancestral home.

The Natural History Museum is a safe place to engage communities. It gives people the chance to express what they miss or what they took for granted in the country they left. People are often surprised how much they already know about nature and what they learn from their friends’ experiences too.

To take part in these sessions, please contact Joanna Nim-Heung Yeung at the Natural History Museum.

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