Dinosaur skeletons to be under new management
The Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism of Mongolia, Ts.Oyungerel, spoke recently with journalists regarding the plans for protecting Mongolia’s dinosaur skeletons.
-I heard that several dinosaur museums are being established in the countryside. How is this going?
-Our home country, Mongolia, has abundant dinosaur bones. A total of 90 sets of dinosaur bones were taken to Europe in the 1990s for exhibition purposes and have not been returned, and 26 sets of bones were taken to Asian exhibitions. There are 150 in the Mongolian Natural History Museum (MNHM). To date there has never been a proper dinosaur museum or an authority in charge of registering both current and new dinosaur finds, and over the years a great number of valuable finds have been smuggled abroad. Therefore, when I was appointed as the Minister I requested data be gathered on how many dinosaur specimens were under research, how many were sent abroad, how many were in Mongolia, and how many had potential to be put on display museum display.
Recognizing the need to protect this natural heritage, it was decided at the Government Meeting on Saturday January 12, that we would establish a Central Museum of Dinosaurs. The museum will establish an institute in charge of registering the dinosaur specimens, conducting a regular census and registering the dinosaur specimens that are sent abroad for advanced research and monitoring how long they are kept abroad. As various dinosaur museums will be established in the countryside, the institute will have a significant role. We are planning to establish a “Palace of Giants” in Tuv Province, a National Dinosaur Park in Dundgovi Province and a Museum for Scientific Research in Umnugovi Province. Many dinosaur museums will be built in the provincial areas.
-The Mongolian People’s Party has opposed the decision to establish the Central Museum of Dinosaurs at the former Lenin Memorial Museum, because the building was said to be under the ownership of the party. How will this issue be resolved?
-The government chose the former Lenin Memorial Museum as the site of the new Central Museum of Dinosaurs because the building that housed the Lenin Memorial Museum is a state-owned building, built with state funds between 1974 and 1980. The Specialised Agency at the time appointed the History Institute of Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) to be in charge of the building in 1980. That institute has not been operational since the 1990s. Therefore the MPP has been using the building since then. In accordance with State and Local Property Laws, any building built with state fund is state property, and only the government has a right to decide how the property can be used. So the government has decided to use the building for the Central Museum of Dinosaurs. We will resolve the matter soon through the State Property Committee.
-The MPP has stated it will sue the government if the issue proceeds further. What are your thoughts on this?
-It is the decision of the MPP whether to sue or not. According to the law, the government or the parliament is in charge of shifting the ownership of a state property building. The government is correct in construing the building as state property. It is the only available building in Ulaanbaatar designated for museum purposes. As the MNHM building is on the verge of collapse and additional dinosaur bones are due to arrive back into Mongolia soon, we therefore need a proper place to store and display dinosaur bones. The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism is responsible for finding a suitable place and we concluded that the former Lenin Memorial Museum is the only appropriate place, after studying various buildings with professional museum experts.
-I also heard that you suggested cooperating with U.Enkhtuvshin, the Chairman of the MPP, in establishing the Central Museum of Dinosaurs, but that you haven’t received a reply. Is that correct?
- I sent a letter in November 2012 suggesting that we cooperate on this matter because the ceiling of the MNHM was in danger of collapsing and was urgent that the dinosaur remains be shifted. When it became certain on December 27 that the Tyrannosaurus Bataar bones will be returned to Mongolia soon, along with six other fossils, the need for a new museum building became even more urgent.
-How does the former Lenin Memorial Museum meet the standards required for a dinosaur museum?
-The museum building was the most suitable among all of the possible buildings as it has air conditioning and lighting systems that were designed for a museum. In other words, it is suitable for storing sensitive objects.
- Member of Parliament B.Narankhuu has pledged to invest in establishing a National Dinosaur Park in Dundgovi Province. What are your thoughts on this?
-B.Narankhuu has proposed to invest in the design of the museum, which is a major part of the planned works.
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