The Natural History Museum – Flora and Fauna of the Habsburgs

Naturhistorische museum

To which Habsburg do the natural science collections go back? When was the Natural History Museum opened? What highlights does the museum offer?

The dome-crowned twin buildings of the two court museums, the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Naturhistorisches Museum, designed by Gottfried Semper and Carl von Hasenauer , were intended to provide an appropriate setting for the treasures of art and nature that had been accumulated over four centuries by the Habsburgs.

Just across the street from the KHM is the Natural History Museum (NHM). A completely identical building, which represents the Viennese Ringstrasse architecture of the 19th century. best represents. Especially popular with families with children and nature fans. 30,000 million objects are at home here. Among them one of the largest meteorite and mineral collections in the world. The digital planetarium invites you to take a look at the sky.

The highlight is the Venus of Willendorf, an archaeological find, a nearly 30,000 year old 11cm tall female figure that still puzzles today. Mock life-size dinosaurs take you back to prehistoric times in the Dinosaur Room. The NHM’s holdings date back to the Habsburgs’ great passion for collecting.

The Natural History Museum also impresses with rare fossils, snails, shells, corals, as well as precious minerals and gemstones. Taxidermy of all kinds of animals fascinates as well.

In contrast to the art collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the natural science collections were long considered curiosities . It was not until Emperor Franz Stephan of Lorraine (husband of Maria Theresa) that scientific research began and he initially founded a private cabinet of naturalia . These were minerals, fossils, snails, corals and shells . Plants and animals were kept in menageries and botanical gardens, since the art of taxidermy had become obsolete by the middle of the 18th century. was not yet very far advanced. The Natural History Cabinet was one of the most advanced in Europe at that time.

Another patron was Franz II/I (1792-1835), who added an animal cabinet to the natural history collection. Through the marriage of his daughter Leopoldine to the Brazilian Crown Prince Dom Pedro, renowned researchers were sent to Brazil and the collection continued to grow and experienced its first peak as a museum of world ren own. The circumnavigation of the world by the frigate “Novara” further contributed to this.

Previously, the exhibits were initially housed in the Court Natural History Cabinet in the Leopoldine Wing of the Hofburg. Then in the Augustinian corridor and the Botanical Cabinet of the University. The problem of space became ever greater until on August 10, 1889 , in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph himself, the Natural History Museum was opened on Vienna’s Ringstrasse.


The scientific-research department can be seen: From prehistoric, zoological, botanical to geological , every direction is represented here. Interesting the lectures on nature, sustainability, environmental protection, which are held regularly in the lecture halls.

Time Travel Tip:
Once a week there are roof tours, i .e. you see “behind the scenes” of the museum, get on the roof and enjoy the wonderful view over Vienna’s city center . Maybe you also want to combine this with a special dinner? The popular weekly “shell dinners” take place in the domed hall , which means you dine in a uniquely imperial setting.

The Natural History Museum also offers a varied and exciting program for children with puzzle rallies through the museum . Or how about a “Night at the Museum?

More info: Naturhistorisches Museum Wien – Natural History Museum Vienna (












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