Naturhistorisches Museum in Wien

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The Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (en: Museum of Natural History of Vienna) or NHMW is a large museum located in Vienna, Austria. The collections displayed cover 8700 sqm, and the museum has a website providing an overview as a video virtual tour.

The interaction of the building, the ornate decoration, the furniture, and precious exhibits makes the museum also a "museum of the museum" for the cultural-historical preservation.<ref name=NotesNM/>

Famous and irreplaceable exhibits, for instance the 25,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf, and a skeleton of a Diplodocus dinosaur, plus extinct animal or plant specimens from 200 million years ago such as the Steller sea-cow, are displayed along 39 halls.<ref name=NotesNM/> Contemporary presentation by means of modern exhibition technology has been possible without destruction of the historical structures in the building.<ref name=NotesNM/>


On the upper floor (Hochparterre) precious stones and minerals can be seen, along with large dinosaur displays and rare fossils, along with prehistoric art works: the Venus von Willendorf, the skeleton of Diplodocus, a giant topaz weighing 117 kg (258 lb), and the collection of jewels which Maria Theresia had made as a present for her husband.<ref name=NotesNME/>

The first floor displays the species variety of the animal world, from protozoa to insects to highly developed mammals. Objects over 200 years old are of interest, not only on their own account but also as historical records for the history of science and the art of taxidermy: numerous stuffed animals of species either extinct, or extremely endangered, have made the collections irreplaceable.<ref name=NotesNME/>

Note that most signs and explanations in the museum are in German only.


The museum building opened in 1889 at the same time as the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The two museums have identical exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz. The Museum was built to house the huge collection of the Habsburgs.

Both buildings were built between 1872 and 1891 on the Ringstraße according to plans drawn up by Gottfried Semper and Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer.

The insect collections date from 1793 when Franz I of Austria purchased the scientific collections of Joseph Natterer, Sr. (father of 6-year-old, and later zoologist, Johann Natterer). In 1806 the museum purchased a collection of European insects made by Johann Carl Megerle von Mühlfeld, and Megerle became the first curator of insects.<ref name=HistNM/> He organised the purchase of the Gundian collection of European butterflies. These old collections with Megerle's specimens were destroyed in October 1848, during a Hofburg fire;<ref name=HistNM/> however, Johann Natterer's journey to Brazil (1817-1835) had led to an enormous enhancement of the collections: 60,000 insects were a part of the "Brazilian museum" in the "Harrach' house" and escaped the fire.

In 1859, the frigate SMS Novara returned from a world voyage with Georg Ritter von Frauenfeld and Johann Zelebor,<ref name=HistNM/> and the insects were incorporated in the Vienna collections. These were worked on by Ludwig Redtenbacher (Coleoptera), Friedrich Moritz Brauer (Neuroptera and Diptera), Henri Louis Frederic de Saussure (Hymenoptera excluding Formicidae), Gustav Mayr (Formicidae and Hemiptera), Ignaz Rudolph Schiner (Diptera), C Felder, R. Felder and Alois Friedrich Rogenhofer (Lepidoptera).<ref name=HistNM/>

The present museum organization dates from 1876. The entomologists Ganglbauer and Karl Holdhaus (Coleoptera), Rogenhofer and Hans Rebel, Josef Emanuel Fischer von Röslerstamm, Josef Johann Mann (Lepidoptera), Franz Friedrich Kohl, Carl Tschek and Maidl (Hymenoptera), Brauer (Diptera and Neuroptera), and Anton Handlirsch (for fossil insects) contributed substantially to the international reputation of the museum.<ref name=HistNM/>


See also

  • Kunsthistorisches Museum - the Fine Art Museum of Vienna, opposite.
  • Technisches Museum Wien - technology museum in Vienna.
  • Museum für Völkerkunde - the Museum of Ethnology of Vienna.
  • Lobkowitz Palace - the theatrical museum of the Austrian National Library.
  • Imperial Natural History Museum.


External links