The World Soil Museum of ISRIC – World Soil Information in Wageningen can now be visited online. The museum has a collection of reference soil profiles from around the world. These 3D profiles, or monoliths, are used to explain main soil forming factors and to show the importance of the soil for ensuring food security, mitigating climate change, or in terms of their cultural value. So far, visitors had to come to the campus in Wageningen to physically visit the museum. This is no longer the case: the museum, the collection, including the objects in the collection storage – normally off limits to visitors – can now be visited online.
'We have a unique collection. You could see it as a DNA bank or herbarium, but then for soil,' says curator Stephan Mantel. 'The soil profiles on exhibit in the museum come from locations across the globe. You won't find such an extensive collection anywhere else. This attracts scientists and students from around the world. What's more, since the opening of the new museum in 2014, many high-school pupils and other visitors have been coming to the museum.'
The collection of the World Soil Museum contains around 1,200 soil profiles from 80 countries and covers all main soil types. However, only 90 of these can be exhibited in the museum as monoliths. These are vertically cut samples of soils up to 1.5 metre deep that clearly show the structure of the soil, and serve as research and reference material. However, the museum does a lot more. Stephan Mantel explains, 'The museum also provides information that is of interest to those who aren't soil experts. For example, we present a clear picture of the importance of soil in all sorts of global issues, ranging from world food supply to climate change.'
No matter where you are in the world, you can can now explore this unique collection virtually and this 24/7. You do this as part of an online tour and search for specific data and information on each soil profile. Further, you can also view the storeroom which houses the majority of the collection, and obtain a complete overview of the soil profiles by country or soil type. This means you can put together your own exhibition for your studies or as a work project.
The virtual tour is available in English. As we expand our collections, the scope of the virtual tour will be gradually extended.
Click here to begin the virtual tour and enter the amazing world of soils.