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LIFE SCIENCE MUSEUM
WITWATERSRAND UNIVERSITY
JOHANNESBURG
GAUTENG


The Life Sciences Museum and Biodiversity Center was formed in 2003 when the Zoology Museum and the C.E. Moss Herbarium moved into the present space. For a number of years prior to this, the Zoology Museum had been housed on parts of three floors of the Old Education Building. The display space was very cramped and storage areas were in poor condition, damp and completely inadequate. The Herbarium was full to capacity, partly due to an underestimation of the size of the collection during planning.

The new museum is conveniently situated close to the Biophy Library, lecture theaters and teaching labs. Displays and exhibitions can occupy the open areas of Oppenheimer Life Sciences Building as well as the museum proper, and the gardens and outdoor areas near the museum are used for live displays.

Zoology Museum
The Zoology Museum was initiated in 1922 by Professor Fantham, the first head of the Zoology Department. He perceived that a teaching collection was an essential adjunct to the department and thus the first specimens purchased were from European firms and comprised largely of a phylogenetic range of bottled specimens and articulated skeletons.

The Life Sciences Museum and Biodiversity Centre is the only natural history museum in Johannesburg, which is unusual since all the other major cities in South Africa have large public natural history museums. It has retained a unique character as the display specimens are exhibited in finely crafted teak cabinets which allow the viewer to engage directly with scores of objects at close range. Items can be selected and arranged to illustrate themes such as feeding in vertebrates or features of molluscs. This "hands on" feature has always proved popular with school groups.

The display area is open to all members of the public and access to the reference collections and guided tours are by appointment. The museum is situated opposite the Biophy Library on the lower ground floor of the Oppenheimer Life Sciences on the East Campus.


C.E. Moss Herbarium
The C.E. Moss Herbarium of the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences of the University of the Witwatersrand, is named in honour of Professor Charles Edward Moss, the first professor of botany at the University. The herbarium was started in 1917 when Prof. Moss and the Rev. F.A. Rogers went on a collecting trip to Mpumalanga at the time Moss was professor of Botany at the South African School of mines and Technology. The Department of Botany at the School of mines was housed in a corrugated iron complex on Plein Square. The School of Mines became the University of the Witwatersrand in 1922, and the Department of Botany moved to the newly completed Biology building in 1923. Professor Moss enthusiastically built up the new department, a library of systematics references and the herbarium. It has excellent facilities, comprising several collections, a library and the necessary items of equipment.

Charles Edward Moss (1870 - 1930)
Charles Edward Moss was born in Hyde, Cheshire, England. He became interested in plants at an early age and was a pupil teacher before getting his B.Sc in 1898. He obtained his M.Sc. degree from Manchester University for ecological observations in Somerset and later played a prominent part in the formation of the British Ecological Society. After being awarded a D.Sc. at Cambridge in 1907 he was the curator of their herbarium until the end of 1916 after which he took up the post of professor of Botany at the South African School of mines and Technology. In the same year he began collecting what was to be the foundation for the present herbarium. The new Department of Botany at the School of mines was housed in a corrugated iron complex on Plein Square. The School of Mines became the University of the Witwatersrand in 1922, and the Department of Botany moved to the newly completed Biology building in 1923. Professor Moss enthusiastically built up the new department, a library of systematics references and the herbarium. He is commemorated in the genus Mossia N.E. Br. and in a number of species including Orthosiphon mossianus Good and Myrica mossii Burtt Davy.


Opening hours:
8.30 am to 4.30 pm weekdays.


CONTACT DETAILS:

Telephone enquiries : 011 717-6464

Postal enquiries may be addressed to:

Caroline Crump
Zoology Curator of the Museum

P O Wits 2050.
Botanical Collections

Telephone enquiries : 011 717-6467

Postal enquiries may be addressed to:
ReneƩ Reddy,
Herbarium Manager
P O Wits 2050.

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