16 – Museo di Storia Naturale
16 – Museo di Storia Naturale, is housed in the Fondaco dei Turchi; located on the Grand Canal in the Santa Croce district of Venice.
The Natural History Museum of Venice collections, relate mainly to the natural history of the Venetian lagoon; that surrounds the city and contains a surprisingly impressive collection of 2 million objects.
Today, the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia; manages eleven sites including this museum; that are covered by their “Museum Pass”.
- Fossils, animals, and life-size models
- Educational classes for kids
- Cost: €8,00 (adults), €5,50 (reduced)
- Suggested duration: 2 – 3 hours
- Vaporetto stop: San Stae
16 – Museo di Storia Naturale – HISTORY
The Natural History Museum of Venice is housed in the “Fontego dei Turchi”, on the Grand Canal in the Santa Croce district. It was built as a palazzo for the Pesaro family, in the 13th century.
With its imposing Grand Canal facade, it is one of the most famous and distinctive secular buildings in Venice. Its double loggia in the so-called Venetian-Byzantine style, reflects the purpose for which the building was created; as a trading depot for goods coming from the East. The corner towers, a later addition; are similar to the defensive structures, that were part of family palazzi of the early Medieval period.
In 1381, the building was given to Nicolò d’Este, lord of Ferrara and then in 1621, after changing hands several times; became the “Fontego” for Turkish merchants in the city. It was the place, where they were expected to live and do their business.
It was used for this purpose right up until 1838 and then from 1865 onwards; underwent extensive restoration work. Thereafter, it housed the Museo Correr and later, from 1923; the Natural History Museum.
The museum was set up to house various local scientific collections: from the Museo Correr, the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti and others.
Over time, this material was added to, through acquisitions and donations; to make up the present rich, varied and fragile collection that spans 700 million years. The museum contains 2 million finds, zoological, entomological and botanical collections, fossils and anatomic preparations; as well as ethnographic collections, ‘marvels’ and a library with over 40 thousand volumes.
LAYOUT AND DISPLAYS
The Natural History Museum boasts a modern and attractive layout which enables visitors to interact with the exhibits.
GROUND FLOOR. The entrance leads visitors into the first two rooms of the exhibition:
The Gallery of Cetaceans, boasts two of the major attractions of the museum; the skeleton of a fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) approximately 20m long and that of a young sperm whale (Physeter catodon). The Cetaceans are suspended from the ceiling, thanks to steel structures, that allow you to travel through the space provided below; together with information and facts, as well as a device for playing whale songs.
In the Aquarium of Tegnùe, you can admire one of the most peculiar natural environments of the Northern Adriatic Sea, recreated in a 5 m long tank. The tegnùe, are restricted areas where the seabed of the Adriatic, usually sandy or muddy, becomes hard and rocky; giving rise to an oasis of great and unusual biological diversity.
The Museum has focused for years on these fascinating areas, both from an environmental point of view and to study the species that live there. To encourage the involvement of visitors, the hall has also prepared a “Virtual Aquarium”; which promotes interaction with the various species that are housed inside it.
FIRST FLOOR. This area is divided into three clearly defined sections:
>>The trail of life. From the appearance of the first living organisms to humans, the museum presents a ‘guided’ visit: from fossils (the fundamental key to understanding the formation and history of life on Earth), through a succession of rooms that combine artefacts, images, reproductions and multimedia devices, to help the visitor understand the distant past.
In this section the most famous exhibits are located – the dinosaurs. The skeleton of “Ouranosaurus nigeriensis”, more than 7m long and the skull of “Sarchosuchus imperator”; discovered by the famous palaeontologist Giancarlo Ligabue, during his expeditions in Africa.
>>Collecting to astonish, collecting to study – “The evolution of nature collecting and the birth of scientific museology”. The museum presents nature collecting, inside six rooms and two subsections:
- “Venetian Explorers”. Featuring the exceptional collections of Giovanni Miani and Giuseppe De Reali; who during the 19th and early 20th century, travelled to North Africa and Saharan and Equatorial Africa. There is also a room dedicated to Giancarlo Ligabue.
- Naturalistic museology. From the 16th century “Wunderkammer” (Wonders room), which houses all sorts of objects, collected with the sole purpose to entertain; until the advent of the scientific method, that encourages the creation of collections for studying purposes, the interpretation and classification of materials. This section ends in a large room overlooking the Grand Canal, where the most important collections of the museum, are exhibited in an impressive cabinet; together with scientific instruments and publications by many students, who helped to enrich its heritage.
- The strategies of life. A journey to discover the differences and similarities between the different forms of life, both current and extinct.
- “Form and function” (biodiversity and life strategies on earth),
- “Nutrition” (strategies for food, energy, types of nutrition and the cycle of life)
- “Movement” (movement in space and in different situations).
>>The Lagoon Floor
A section devoted entirely to the Venice Lagoon and the relationship between man and environment: organisms, animals, plants and studies; tell the evolution of the territory on which the Museum stands.
This section allows visitors to understand, the unique and special relationship that binds Venice to its Lagoon: an in depth visit inside the microcosm of the lagoon. It is an extraordinary environment, for both its geomorphologic features and the traditions related to both its natural and environmental features and its landscape.
In addition to the exhibition, the Museo di Storia Naturale, has a vast storage, with examples of more than two million pieces. However, these areas are only accessible on demand by researchers and scholars; as the proper preservation of the precious artefacts housed in them must be ensured. The storage rooms contain: botanical and zoological collections, minerals, rocks, fossils, antique scientific instruments, collections of anatomy, anthropology, archaeology, Venetian ethnography and African artefacts.
Founded at the same time as the National History Museum in 1923, it is intended to provide information for both specialists and researchers.
The initial core collection, came from the libraries and papers of certain renowned naturalists from the Veneto area: Giovanni Domenico Nardo (1802-1877), Nicolò Contarini (1780-1849), Giovanni Miani 1(810-1872), Antonio Dondi dell’Orologio (1751-1801).
Purchases, donations and exchanges with leading national and international museums and scientific institutions have since added to the size of the collection.
The Library also houses a substantial collection of prestigious scientific journals; which makes it one of the main reference libraries for the natural sciences, at both a national and international level.
There is also a teaching section for schools, that provides laboratory and workshop activities.
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16 – Museo di Storia Naturale (not linked)
LINKS (internal – external)
Because of inflation and changing health regulations, please check
Museo di Storia Naturale – via Santa Croce – 1730 Venezia (VE) – Italy
Phone: 39 041 2750206 Lift for disabled people
Tickets: Single: Euro 8 Reduced: Euro 5.5
To visit all the Civic Museums, the Museum of Natural History included, you can purchase the MUSEUM PASS, a cumulative ticket valid for all the Civic Museums currently open and for those connected. Single Euro 24 Reduced: Euro 18
To widen your experience and enjoyment before visiting, please see my comprehensive and illustrated posts below:
San Croce – District and Attractions
16 – Museo di Storia Naturale 16 – Museo di Storia Naturale 16 – Museo di Storia Naturale