Naturhistorisches Museum – Vienna, Austria - Atlas Obscura

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Naturhistorisches Museum

Beautiful Austrian natural history museum with carved ceilings and row after row of ancient taxidermy. 


The rooms of the Naturhistorisches, or Natural History Museum, in Vienna, Austria are astonishingly beautiful, with carved ceilings and creaking wood floors.

Each room, painted a different color, is lined with dark wood cases filled with row after row of taxidermy. In some rooms, the walls are covered with the delicate, twisting vertebrae of snakes, others feature the sturdy bone shells of turtles. The display cabinets seem to come straight from an 18th-century naturalist’s study, with lines of mice carefully tagged and cataloged.  Indeed, many eminent naturalists served as collectors and advisors to the museum including the famous Alexander Von Humboldt and the museum is undeniably from another time in its ambiance.

Yet the curators do manage to keep the collection updated and fresh with objects like the stereoscopic slide viewers sprinkled throughout the museum. The modernity of these 3-D photographs provides an interesting contrast with the rest of the collection.

Of particular note are the glass models of sea-life around the museum, the work of the Blaschkas, a 19th-century father and son team of expert glassmakers. The jellyfish are simply breathtaking.

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