Natural History Museum Vienna (Naturhistorisches Museum)

Natural History Museum Vienna (Naturhistorisches Museum) (35)

Opened in 1889, the Museum of Natural History is an imposing building that is identical in appearance to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which stands in front and was designed by the same architects. Gottfried Semper and Karl von Hasenauer.

By means of a vast collection of items presented over an area of 8700 square metres, the museum reveals the history of our planet, with collections devoted to a variety of subjects such as zoology, geology and archaeology.

The first floor, for example, houses the rooms dedicated to the animal world, where visitors will find information about all classes of species, from protozoa to the most highly-evolved mammals and including all kinds of insects and birds. 

Hundreds of stuffed animals are on display here, some of them very old. The collection includes valuable specimens of both extinct species and other species in danger of extinction and is an important source of information for zoologists.

The Naturhistorisches Museum houses numerous very valuable pieces. The first of these, and one of the great stars of the museum, is the dinosaur room, where the skeletons of an Iguanodon, an Allosaurus and a Diplodocus are on display. The dinosaur holds the honour of being the largest vertebrate land animal ever to have existed. Next up, among the museum's mineralogy collection, is a giant 117-kilo topaz, which was a gift from the Empress Maria Theresa to her husband, Emperor Franz I. 

And last, but by no means least, is the museum's collection of prehistoric sculpture, which is among the largest in Europe and features what is known as the Venus of Willendorf. Discovered in Lower Austria, this plump statue is a symbol of fertility that experts have dated at about 25,000 years old. 

If, on top of all this, we add an architectural environment that is enviable for its beauty alone and the fact that the Naturhistorisches Museum continually organizes temporary exhibitions, visitors should recognize the value of this museum as a fascinating place in which to learn about our own evolution and that of the world in which we live. It also has the charm of a museum straight out of a Harry Potter film, but with contemporary techniques for presenting its pieces. 

If you bring children along, the visit is bound to be a success (people under 19 enter for free), and if you visit without kids, well, the museum will make you feel just like one, and that cannot be a bad thing. And one last thing... Do not forget to visit the gift store, which offers both interesting gifts and unique decoration.

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