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The Director of Natural Sciences retires without realizing his dream of creating a new museum in Vitoria

The Director of Natural Sciences retires without realizing his dream of creating a new museum in Vitoria

Jesus Alonso took over his small office in Doña Ochanda three weeks ago. He made it laden with souvenirs through a corridor lined with shelves that reach to the ceiling with boxes preserving the geological, botanical, and animal treasures of Alava. He retired after 35 years of managing the Museum of Natural Sciences, but without realizing his eternal dream of finding a new home to display with dignity some of the collections which would set him as a national standard, despite the pressures he experienced at the Tower Worshipers of St. Jesus. They offer to the public only 0.1% of their catalog of 650,000 objects, a figure that is rising without brakes due to the finds and the international donations they receive.

Who will replace this geologist at the head of this alpha institution? County Council spokespeople indicate that a public internal operation will be opened for museum technicians. That is, the replacement will not be instant.

Despite his characteristic enthusiasm and verbosity, Alonso now prefers to remain silent, turn the page and begin to enjoy his retirement. For two decades, he personally fought for Alava Institutions to find a new location for the museum and moved from a “no haste” move request in 2001 to an urgent one after checking for no progress. “We came to Doña Ochanda in 1986 and by the end of the ’90s she was already too young for us,” he explained to EL CORREO in 2020.

During these 35 years, different heads of the county council have proposed different alternatives, and one after another they have ended up in the drawer of promises that don’t work. He now refrains from expressing his opinion on any of them because – he repeats – he is retired.

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Representative Lorena López de Lacalle (EA) in 2007 asked the Basque government to encourage a search for a new site, but the economic crisis and austerity prescriptions stood in the way. Javier de Andrés (PP) put the option of the Maturana-Verástegui mansion on the table in 2012. Seven years later, the PNV campaigned to move it to the Archives of the Historical Province of Álava, on campus, but did not meet the structural conditions to host no museum. The last alternative discussed is that he moved to the Palacio de Escoriaza-Esquível, a Renaissance gem in Casco, a project promoted by Ana del Val (PSE) and which has spent two years seeking €17 million in financing and, at the moment, has not Nobody thinks of the offer.

Biodiversity treasure

The organization of the Tour de France took several seconds to focus on “Le Musée des Sciences Naturelles d’Alava”, as stated on the television banner of French television, on the stage of the last day 2. But the important thing is not so the tower that was built 53 years ago thanks to the impulse Architects Emilio and Luis Ángel de Apraiz, but the treasures he keeps inside. Because, in addition to mummification and skeletons, Doña Ochanda preserves minerals and fossils of high value, not to mention amber from Peñaserrada, where insects, spiders, mollusks, feathers and microorganisms were trapped millions of years ago, which in 1995 placed a historic region in the heart of international focus.

“People do not understand that we have three or four times more biodiversity than our surroundings, despite the fact that Navarre is moving from the Pyrenees to the Ebro. In Alava, we live in a climatic transition zone. This society knows that it will help us preserve our environment, ”Jesús Alonso defended two years ago. Now it is up to his successors to decide whether or not to commit to this museum.