Museum of Natural History
Visit Vienna’s Natural History Museum and stand before the huge skeletons of a Diplodocus or an Iguanodon and imagine what a spectacle the creatures would have been in their time. Then marvel at the array of colors on display in the minerals and gemstones exhibits. Elsewhere you’ll find fossils and models of long extinct animals, as well as fascinating examples of prehistoric art.
The Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum) was founded in the late 1800s. The current collection consists of over 30 million artifacts, making it one of the largest natural history collections in the world. About 40 exhibit halls within the old palatial building provide ample room for detailed examinations of the evolution of life on earth and the composition of our planet.
If the time of the dinosaurs captures your imagination, a visit to the upper floor is a must. Alongside huge skeletons you will find computerized displays allowing you to see how the prehistoric creatures looked, moved and lived in their habitats. Don’t miss the Venus of Willendorf: This small feminine figure is remarkable; the carved limestone statuette is thought to be at least 24,000 years old.
Browse the halls of sparkling minerals and see one of the largest collections of meteorites in the world. Admire a topaz crystal weighing 257 pounds (117 kilograms) and a bouquet made from diamonds and precious gemstones. Maria Theresa, the 18th-century Holy Roman Empress, had the bouquet made for her husband. Continue to the extensive collection of plants and animals, including some that have been extinct for decades.
To find out more, take one of the many guided tours. One of these is the Over the Roofs tour which finishes on the museum’s roof terrace, offering unique views across Vienna.
The entrance to the Naturhistorisches Museum is on Maria-Theresien-Platz, just off the central Ringstraße. There is a small charge for entry. Note that it is closed on Tuesdays. Tours of the museum are available in English on selected days for an extra fee and don’t require bookings. The café in the central Cupola Hall serves typical Viennese pastries.