[George’s take on the wonders of the Naturhistorisches Museum. He was the keeper of Baedeker’s, so he really had fun comparing the rooms then and now]
As I mentioned earlier, we came to Austria with a 1900 edition of Baedeker’s and have had no end of fun checking to see what remains a century later.
The other posts, slightly out of order from Baedeker’s, are
Once we start talking about institutions of real learning, of course Erika has beaten me to the punch with an elegant and readable blog entry: Naturhistorisches Museum
Following on in my plodding approach, here’s the room by room summary of continuities and changes.
Natural History Museum
Room I. “Large rock crystals … At the middle window is a group of stalactites from the Adelsberg Grotto.” Yep. But the stalactites might have been moved 20 feet from a central window to one nearer the door.
Room II. The diamonds have been moved to more secure lodgings in room IV.
Room III. Maria Theresia’s crystaline bouquet and the opal have been moved similarly to room IV.
Room IV. Building materials of Vienna, much enlarged are now in room I. Itś hard to convey how cool a series of rectangular, polished stones can be. These carefully identify where on which building in Vienna these types of stone are used and where they were mined.
Secure cases are along the far wall.
Room V. Meteorites. Yes, lots of them in interesting variety.
Room VI. Portraits and a display of coal-forming plants are gone, replaced by a variety of educational displays.
Room VII. The limestone erosion is now in Room VI. Now the room houses early fossils.
Room VIII. The fossil water lilies and pterodactyls are still here.
Room IX. No skeleton of a goat by the door, but fossils galore.
Room X. No skeletons of bears and lions, but dinosaurs and the like and a huge turtle.
Room XI. Prehistoric relics. Yep, including the famous Venus.
Room XII. Prehistoric tombs and relics. Now some graves and also some salt mines and the like.
Room XIII. Iron Age implements and Celtic evidence. Yep.
Erika found the stuffed birds in XIX – XVI too depressing to venture on to the second floor where taxidermist’s art is applied to increasingly complex animals. Why a mouse is more complex than an octopus, I can’t imagine. Suffice it to say that the maps in Baedeker’s and from the Museum match pretty well, as one would expect.
As Simon Winder writes in Germania, the Naturhistorisches Museum is one of the miraculous survivors of the destruction of Europe in the 20th century, and remains ”one of the great repositories of pre-1914 learning.” And lots of fun!