Naturhistorisches Museum – Bern, Switzerland - Atlas Obscura

Naturhistorisches Museum

Natural history museum displaying a famous taxidermied St. Bernard. 


The Naturhistorsisches Museum in Bern, Switzerland is famous for its collection of taxidermied animals set in their natural surroundings.

Over 200 nearly century old dioramas of birds and mammals from Asia, Africa and Switzerland are housed here. Besides the famous collection of taxidermy dioramas, the museum also has an incredible collection of animal skeletons. Originally used for comparative anatomy studies, the skeletons are posed in a number of fantastic and delightful ways.

Perhaps the oddest item in the museum is “Barry.” Barry, the most famous of the St. Bernard alpine rescue dogs, lived from 1800 until 1814, and is said to have rescued over 40 people from the cold snows of the Alps. The 200-year old taxidermied St. Bernard has been recently restored, and now stars in his own exhibit.

The museum also contains a number of other curious items, including the skeleton of an Indian circus elephant, which, after killing his trainer, was shot by the Bern townspeople with a cannon and prepared into an elephant stew for the gustatory pleasure of the whole town. Another notable display is the case containing the skull of the lion that killed Bernard von Wattenwyl, the hunter responsible for having supplied the museum with over a quarter of their African collection. The skull is displayed surrounded by a circle of text reading, “Bernard V. Wattenwyl killed this lion killed Bernard V. Wattenwyl killed this lion killed…”

Know Before You Go

See website for opening hours and entry fees. Free entry on Monday. 

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web