{Spain} Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales

May 18, 2016


100 Museums Challenge: Museum No.49

NHM Madrid 22

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.

NHM Madrid 21

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

NHM Madrid 20

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.

NHM Madrid 19

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

NHM Madrid 18

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

NHM Madrid 06

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

NHM Madrid 10

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.

NHM Madrid 13

NHM Madrid 05

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.

NHM Madrid 08

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

NHM Madrid 07

NHM Madrid 17

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

NHM Madrid 16

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.

NHM Madrid 15

Greetings from Mr Hitchcock!

NHM Madrid 14

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.

NHM Madrid 04

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!

NHM Madrid 01

NHM MAdrid 02

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.


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.

, ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply