{Spain} Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales

May 18, 2016

Spain

100 Museums Challenge: Museum No.49

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During my visit to Madrid last month to speak at a conference, one of my hosts organised a visit on the Saturday morning to the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid’s National Museum of Natural Sciences. It is apparently one of the oldest museums of natural history in the world, and is not only a museum but also an active research facility, something not uncommon among natural history museums. It shares a building – the Palacio de Exposiciones de las Artes e Industrias – with the Industrial Engineering School of the Technical University of Madrid.

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We started out in the Biodiversity exhibition, where you could find popular natural history museum exhibits such as a whale skeleton and an elephant.

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Fun fact about the elephant: Elephants have their testicles inside their bodies. However, the taxidermists preparing this elephant specimen didn’t know that at the time, so this is possibly the only elephant in the world with external testicles! Also, the elephant too big to move out of the gallery, so no matter what exhibition happens here, the elephant has to stay. But it can be wheeled around on its little platform within the gallery.

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I liked what they did in this exhibit (see above) to show how the insides of animals look and work.

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And here the giraffe is demonstrating what the interior of a taxidermy exhibit looks like.

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Fun fact about the panda: The taxidermists gave him a bit of a slimline look. In real life, he was much bigger!

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Ever since getting hooked on Octonauts with my kids (one of the best kids TV programmes ever!) I’ve discovered an increased interest in marine biology exhibits when I visit museums. I was very excited to discover ‘Cousin Irving’ at the museum (see below), and promptly sent some photos home for #MuseumBoy.

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It hadn’t registered for me before, that Zorro is the Spanish for ‘fox’. Until I saw it plastered across the front of the case of these guys. And Fuchs is of course the German for fox. So maybe I should start wearing a mask and take on a secret identity. Lol.

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We got a ‘behind the scenes’ peek in to the education room!

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The wall of heads – a space saving way to display lots of animals.

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We also got a ‘behind the scenes’ peek in to the basement, which isn’t open on a regular basis to the public. Our guide referred to it as an ‘animal warehouse’ and you can see why.

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Greetings from Mr Hitchcock!

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The museum actually has two entrances, one on either side of the building, so to visit the other half of the exhibitions – fossils, minerals, evolution and dinosaurs! – we had to exit and go around the building to the other entrance as the two halves of the museum are not connected inside. But your admission ticket gets you in to both.

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I was keeping an eye on the clock, as I wanted to go see another museum that was only open until lunch time, but then our host said “You don’t want to see the dinosaurs?” Of course I wanted to see the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs for the win!

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Fun fact: In 1788, this Megatherium americanum (a large terrestial sloth) skeleton was assembled as seen. However, it later emerged that this was not anatomically correct, but has been kept this way for historical conservation purposes. The silhouette behind, shows how it would have stood on its hind legs.

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The Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales is open Tuesdays to Sundays. Concessions and family tickets are available, and there is free admission for under 4s and over 65s. Exact opening times and admission details are available on the museum website.

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