Reconstructed Naturalis museum in Leiden, the Netherlands


This Dutch October 2019 video is about Naturalis museum in Leiden, recently reopened after reconstruction.

As I wrote, I visited that museum on 16 December 2019.

Much has changed since before reconstruction.

Then, the museum entrance was in the 17th century Pesthuis building. Now, it is a 21st-century door, leading to a big 21st-century entrance hall.

Then, after buying a ticket, you proceeded on a roofed footbridge across a road towards the five-story main building. Now, the entrance hall is part of the new nine-story main building.

The footbridge is gone. On it, there were sometimes temporary photo exhibitions. And there were two life-size plastic rhinos, and a much smaller life-size plastic baby rhino.

That baby rhino is now at the meeting point in the entry hall. Its two plastic ‘parents’ are now in the new Life Science hall on the ground floor. For that hall, in which visitors can meet and talk to researchers working on Triceratops dinosaurs, on African plants or other natural history stuff, you don’t need to buy a museum ticket. The Life Science hall is a bigger version of a hall formerly in the Pesthuis. Its collection of Dutch animal species has been moved there: hundreds of stuffed Dutch bird species, drawers with butterflies, moths, other insects, mammal bones, etc. There is more space in the new bigger hall for the dolphin skeletons hanging from the ceiling. Now, there is space for a big whale skeleton as well.

The museum restaurant and auditorium have moved from the Pesthuis to the new main building as well.

We did not have time on 16 December to see all the new museum halls. After the ground floor, we went to the highest exhibition hall, on the eighth story. The theme of that hall is Death. There are many natural history museums all over the world, but Naturalis is the only one with a gallery about death.

Naturalis writes about it:

Quite literally, death leads to rebirth. As nature’s circle of life treats both equally, it’s no wonder that a museum about every aspect of life should devote a gallery to death.

The exhibits show how the death of some animals makes life possible for other animals. Eg, a dead deer feeds many microbes, insects, birds from robins to buzzards, foxes, wild boar

In the middle of the maze-like gallery, there is sensurround animation film about life and death in a Dutch nature reserve, from winter to summer to winter again: mushrooms growing and dying, a red fox killing a rabbit to feed its cub, etc.

I did not have time to see the Seduction gallery. The museum writes about it:

The Seduction gallery is all about procreation in nature. In a playful way, it illustrates the rituals of courting, coupling, and raising offspring.

This time, I also did not see the Earth gallery; about geology.

Though there are many improvements compared to the old museum, there is also criticism that not enough attention is paid to evolution. In the older, more crowded, museum exhibits you could walk along the evolution of plant and animal life, from before the Cambrian era to the Cambrian era when there were no land plants and only marine invertebrate animals like the Burgess Shale fauna, to the rise of amphibians in the Devonian to the Mesozoic age of dinosaurs. About ten ago, there were just two dinosaur skeletons in the museum: a Camarasaurus and a Edmontosaurus. Plus a plastic head and a plastic leg of a Tyrannosaurus. After the age of dinosaurs, then onward to the Cenozoic age of mammals to the present.

Now, I saw only succinct information in the new dinosaur era hall about how dinosaurs, and also mammal-like reptiles which are distant ancestors of humans, evolved from the ancient chordate animal Pikaia.

The museum writes:

No visitor will want to skip this gallery, as it features our most prized asset: Trix the T. rex.

There are now also more dinosaurs. And marine Mesozoic reptiles from the Netherlands: Triassic nothosaurs from Winterswijk, and Cretaceous mosasaurs and turtles from Limburg province.

This 27 August 2019 video is especially about the dinosaur and Ice Age halls.

About millions of years later, there is the Early Humans gallery. It says about itself:

How did man come to be? Naturalis attempts to answer this sweeping question in an original way. It does so through a set of unique fossils belonging to Homo erectus, one of our earliest ancestors.

Still later, about 30,000 years ago, is the subject of the Ice Age hall. It shows the Netherlands of that last Ice Age, with animals like woolly mammoths, woolly rhinos and others.

For us on 16 December, the last hall was on the first floor. It is the Life gallery, showing many stuffed animals of present species, with videos of their lives projected on the walls.

Sauropod fossil to Naturalis? Here.

2 thoughts on “Reconstructed Naturalis museum in Leiden, the Netherlands

  1. Pingback: Fossil seashells, sharks, butterflies in museum | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Naturalis museum video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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