A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
If you go to our ‘Who is The Leidener?’ tab, you’ll see that I’m studying Public Administration. Still, this was not my primary goal in life (Wait, what child’s dream is not to study the makings and challenges of public governance?!). When I was younger, I actually wanted to be a paleontologist, dig out dinosaur skeletons, fossils and, of course, have my own museum.
Time passed and now I’m doing something completely different. Yet, this weekend I had a little taste of what things could have turned out like at Naturalis. “How come?” you might be asking yourselves? Well my friends, let me elaborate the matter a bit further:
A biodiversity center, Naturalis is part of an academic working group of the universities of Leiden, Amsterdam and Wageningen. And apart from all the research done there, they also have a great museum, located just here in Leiden, a few meters away from the central train station.
The museum has 5 floors, all dedicated to the story of the Earth: Rocks, dinosaurs, fossils, plants, human anatomy, and geography, amongst other features of life on our planet. And the best part is that all sections have interactive features: You can touch real fossils, bones and animal skins; test your sensorial abilities with several games, putting those taste buds, nostrils and ears to the test; pretend you’re a bee looking for sweet sweet pollen; try to catch moths for your ‘bat-dinner’; relax on a net while watching wildlife films, amongst many other features.
Another interesting section of Naturalis is the ‘Live Science’ section, where the exhibition and hands-on research meet and merge. This section of the museum has a laboratory where actual researchers are working on a shell catalogue and visitors can see their daily workings and the looks of a lab. Also, interactive performances and talks take place, showing insights into researchers’ daily lives.
On a chilly Saturday afternoon, I can say I was a bit above the average age of the other visitors (it’s usually calmer on weekdays I’m told). Still, I had a blast and enjoyed the museum just as much as my fellow visiting colleagues, fascinated with the dinosaur skeletons and other attractions. I may have not become a paleontologist, but had a good glimpse into it.
So whatever your major, be it public administration or any other, this museum has something for all. Give it a go, who knows which passions you’ll (re)discover?