Maputo Natural History Museum – Maputo, Mozambique - Atlas Obscura

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Maputo Natural History Museum

From neon green watering holes to bleached elephant foetuses, this Mozambique museum makes natural history weird. 


Maputo, Mozambique’s Natural History Museum is housed inside a beautiful old building with nicely kept gardens. The collection includes many artifacts you would expect to find in a natural history museum, including descriptions of animal migration, ancient pottery, and a small ethnology exhibit, but it is also home to elephant foetuses and dioramas full of neon water.

While the building housing the museum features a number of exhibits, but the largest amount of space is given to its aging taxidermy centerpiece. A majority of the ground floor is a crowded arrangement of preserved animals native to this part of Africa. The animals appear to be in various states of disrepair and include what museum guides claim is a pair of paper maché rhinos, created to replace the real rhinos, which had been stolen from the museum.

Some of the trophy creatures are posed in deadly battle, while the majority of the menagerie are gathered around a strip of neon green watering holes. The unnatural color seems a bit strange, but is not unheard of in the natural world. Spared from both the watering hole and the battles, is a well-preserved honey badger, digging a hole in its own glass case.

Not far from the taxidermy menagerie on the ground floor is also an eerie display of elephant fetuses behind glass. The half-formed giants are presented in a gradually more mature state of development. Although at no point are the foetuses anything less than a bit unsettling. 

Know Before You Go

Located on the roundabout where Rua dos Lusiadas and Avenida Patrice Lumumba come together (not far from the Hotel Cardoso), the Natural History Museum is easy to find.

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