We had planned a two hours visit but at noon we had only seen the upper ground floor (Hochparterre) of the museum and came back in the afternoon (the ticket is valid for the whole day). It is not surprising as the display halls cover nearly 8.700 m2.
The NHM Vienna is one of the largest natural history museums of Europe. It is located in the imposing building Maria Theresien-platz opposite the KHM (photo 1) .
The collection was started around 1750 by Emperor Franz I, the husband of Maria-Theresia, and did from the start answer scientific criteria. Expansion continued first in the field of mineralogy (photo 3: Bouquet of gems given by Maria-Theresia to her husband) by Ignaz von Born - it is said that this scientist and freemason inspired Mozart for Sarastro of the Magic Flute - later from overseas expeditions with the participation, among others, of Alexander von Humboldt .
The collections became so important (presently there are 20 million objects) that Emperor Franz Joseph decided the construction of this museum by the same architects as the KHM. The NHM opened in 1889 .
During our visit in October there was a special exhibition called "Darwins rEvolution".
A number of scientific authorities and natural history museum curators in the EU find it nowadays a necessity to explain or to remember that there are scientific proven facts because some currents of opinion belonging to a specific religion from the Middle East or others, strange enough from the USA, deny scientific facts.
For details on the collections see my two reviews: NHM Ground Floor
and NHM First Floor
The address of Naturhistorisches Museum is Burgring 7 but the visitor's entrance is on Maria Theresien-Platz.
Open: Thursday to Monday 9 - 18.30 h, Wednesday 9 - 21 h.
Closed: Tuesday, 1/01 and 25/12.
Price (2012): Adults 10 €, Vienna card 8€, Seniors 8€, Students 5 €. Under 19 yr free.
The entrance hall of the NHM is not as majestic as the one of the KHM but is certainly monumental and is also mounted with a cupola.
There were no files at the ticket desk but groups of schoolchildren for the Darwin Evolution special exhibition. Take the stairs on the right to start the visit with showroom 1 (there are 19 rooms on the ground floor).
Showrooms 1 to 5 contain the Mineralogy and Petrology permanent collection which is not only of a great scientific interest with the minerals, ores, precious stones, rocks and especially the important collection of meteorites but shows also a number of historical pieces from the period of the Austria-Hungary monarchy such as the famous bouquet of gems (761 variegated stones and 2102 diamonds) given by Empress Maria Theresa to her husband Franz Stephan (photo 1).
I got most impressed by the meteorites and some very large crystals (photo 2). The gold nugget of 69 kg shown on my photo 3 was a deception; it is a copy in gilded plaster but there is a real gold nugget weighing 548 grams in a safety cabinet.
The next rooms 7 - 10 present the development of life with petrified plants and animals.
Spectacular is the complete skeleton of a 17 million year old tusked elephant Deinotherium (photo 4) found in Czech Republic. The Diplodocus from room 10 is impressive but is a replica of the one found in Wyoming.
Rooms 11 - 14 concern mankind's prehistory. Best known from this section are two small statuettes the "Venus of Willendorf" (25.000 years old - photo 5) and "Fanny of Galgenberg" (32.000 years old) oldest known images of human shape.
After seeing all that only on the ground floor it was already noon and time for a break. There is a cafeteria under the cupola.
We came back in the afternoon to visit the 19 rooms on the first floor and liked it very much, maybe more than the ground floor.
The collection of butterflies in room 24 is just fantastic, a collection I dreamed off when I was a kid and could never realize (photo 2 & 3).
The Museum of Natural History in Vienna houses more than 10 million insect specimens and is one of the biggest collections of entomology in the world.
The fish collection is also superb with a great white shark caught in the Adriatic Sea (hall 25). The specimens on display are originals not replicas.
The herpetological collection (amphibians and reptiles) is one of the strong points of the museum with 210.000 objects most conserved in alcohol but 6.000 conserved in dry state. Some were prepared two centuries ago. Most impressive are the crocodiles (photo 4) and especially the rare gavials with their characteristic long, narrow snout.
The birds (rooms 31-32), the parrots, with all their colours were an enchantment (photo 5).
The seven last halls with the mammal collection counts 470 mounted specimens, an overview of all groups of mammals in modern design showcases. But I must say that here we were getting so tired that we shortened our visit. We will start with that part on another visit another year.
There are some terrariums (photo 1) on the gallery around the monumental stairs with living animals (iguana).
Naturhistorisches Museum is a great place to learn about nature in all of its aspects and diversity. Already in the entrance-hall you may see this giant walross, in another room you may see exotic fishes in various aquariums and on 1st floor you may see an terrarium with exotic birds, bees, butterflies and that small aligator, that seems to have fun with a butterfly - all of these animals are not alive of course, but they are arranged in a way you get the feeling to be in a jungle. My favorites were the giant crabs and it was really great to see them (next to the cafe of Nhm on the 1st floor)!
This is an interesting museum for 2 reasons: (1) what's on exhibition and (2) the exquisite works of art it has - sculptures and fresco ceiling paintings. They have a big collection of stuffed birds, butterflies and other creeping crawlies, dinosaurs, trees, etc. and with information in both German and English, as well as info brochures in various languages. Children seem to love it :) at least those who were there with us so this museum can be another win-win situation if you like art.
Naturhistorisches Museum is a museum for all kinds of life in our world including fossiles, minerals, scelletons of whales and Dynosaurs etc. The architecture of the building is similar to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, but again different in many ways and you will see sculptures of famous scientists in the entrance-hall. Again you will have a cafe-restaurant under the big dome and you will be able to learn about arctic expeditions by austrian scientists and a lot more.
Because of the Euro 2008 and the public viewing area, a large part of the Ringstrasse was closed and I had to zigzag through fenced off areas in order to find the entrance of the Museum for Natural History.
They have very interesting exhibitions, but what I liked most was the way old exhibition items were linked to modern ideas of protecting endangered species.Information and entertainment at the same time, very well presented.
Apart from the animals shown it also pays to look up at the walls and the ceiling, as both have been beautifully painted. Close to the dome you can see putti, clutching various animals and looking anything from absolutely happy to scared to death, depending on the kind of animal.
There is a good gift shop and an excellent café under the dome.
A very good idea: The museum has lowered the entrance fees during the Euro 2008, I only paid 5 Euro instead of the usual 8 Euro.
The Museum of Natural History or Naturhistorisches Museum is situated at Maria-Theresien-Platz, which is part of the museum quarters. The building itself is a mirror image of the Kunsthistoriches Museum or the Art History Museum
You can find many stuffed animals in their zoology department, depicting many species of mammals, reptiles, etc. The Gem Hall has a huge topaz weighing over 100kg, and a pretty bouquet of Maria Theresia jewels.
One highlight is the Venus of Willendorf, sculptured over 20,000 years ago and probably a symbol of fertility
Admission if 8 euros for adults
Open daily except Tuesday
The Naturhistorisches Museum or Natural History Museum is housed in a grand neo-Renaissance. It is probably most notable for it collection of pre-historic artifacts. Beyond that there are the usual displays of stuffed animals and minerals. When I visited there was an exhibit of animated dinosaurs but I believe that this was only temporary. On a whole the museum seemed rather tired and required some restoration.
The museum is open from 9am to 6pm except on Tuesday when it is closed. It cost 2.15 Euros to visit.
The Natural History Museum of Vienna is - no exaggeration - breathtaking ! We have been impressed by its collections of fossils, animals and birds.
Especially if you are traveling with children, do not miss the opportunity to take them to this museum! It will be a wonderful experience for them. But...be prepared to spend much time there; the display halls are covering 8.700 square meters.
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