National Museum of Natural History and Science, Lisbon

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Façade of the National Museum of Natural History and Science, at Rua da Escola Politécnica, Lisbon

The National Museum of Natural History and Science in Lisbon, Portugal ( Portuguese: 'Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência') is the main museum focusing on nature in Portugal. Established in 1926, the museum functions under the University of Lisbon, and is situated on Rua da Escola Politécnica, near the Príncipe Real square in Central Lisbon.

Its rich collections, gathered along more than 250 years, span the areas of zoology, anthropology, geology and botany.

The museum has numerous activities for the promotion of natural history and science awareness, but also has space for artistic exhibitions, conferences, debates, workshops and courses, and all types of events with scientific, cultural or artistic characteristics.

History[edit]

Currently its public designation is "MUHNAC - National Museum of Natural History and Science", and as such was founded in October 2011. This unit incorporated the former National Museum of Natural History and the University of Lisbon Science Museum, integrating their collections, the old buildings of the Polytechnic School, the Lisbon Botanical Gardens and the Lisbon Astronomical Observatory (this one since July 2012):[1]

  • The National Museum of Natural History had its origins in the Royal Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden, created in the second half of the eighteenth century, in Ajuda (western section of Lisbon). It was then housed for a short period in the Royal Academy of Sciences and finally transferred to the Polytechnic School (1858), first denominated as the National Museum of Lisbon (1861).
  • The Botanic Gardens of Lisbon officially opened in 1878.
  • In 1911, with the creation of the University of Lisbon, the Museum was attached to the Faculty of Sciences, taking the name of National Museum of Natural History (1926).
  • In March 1978 a devastating fire destroyed much of the building of the former Polytechnic School, as well as the zoology collections and part of the geology collections. The Faculty then began the process of moving to other premises.
  • The Science Museum of the University of Lisbon was created in May 1985, sharing the same building with the National Museum of Natural History.

Both museums were given new bylaws in 2003, becoming autonomous from the Faculty of Sciences and under the direct administration of the Rector of the University of Lisbon

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