Leiden Law Park

Redevelopment of the former National Museum of Natural History as the location for the Leiden Law Park

The Leiden Law Park is an initiative of the Faculty of Law, the Municipality of Leiden and the Province of South Holland. It is too become a multifunctional hub that will function as a stimulant for research, discussion and entrepreneurship in the overlapping fields of law, ethics and technology. Leiden Law Park is planned in the vicinity of the Faculty of Law in the historic city center of Leiden. A very suitable location for this would be the imposing neogothic building that was built in 1903 as the National Museum of Natural History at Raamsteeg 2.

In the 1990s, the building was repurposed as a depot for the National Museum of Antiquities and the Museum of Ethnology. In addition, it now houses a few small companies. Nevertheless, the building is still largely empty. Most of the interior of the building is still in its original condition, with extensive storage options, including a warehouse for specimens in formaldehyde. It now enjoys protection as a national monument (https://rijksmonumenten.nl/monument/515058/rijksmuseum-van-natuurlijke-historie/leiden/).

For the location of the Leiden Law Park, the question is how this building can be designated anew whilst retaining its cultural-historical value. This is a complex question with many facets. A number of questions here are: what happened previously to similar buildings (for example the former Natural History Museum in Groningen)? Which parts of the building must absolutely be kept in its original state and which can be adapted? Is it possible to make the building more sustainable? How can the current state of the building best be documented for later? Which elements or functionalities of the building determine its specific cultural-historical value? In line with this, we can ask: which connection between these value-determining elements can be made with a future-proof workplace for research, debate and knowledge transfer? These issues require an integrated approach in which students of architecture, history and heritage can each partake.