Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe

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Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe
Natural History Museum Zimbabwe Bulawayo.jpg
Former nameNational Museum of Rhodesia.
Established1964; 55 years ago (1964)
LocationBulawayo, Zimbabwe
TypeNatural history museum
WebsiteOfficial website

The Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe is located in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe,[1] on Leopold Takawira Avenue.[2]

Officially opened in 1964, the museum contains exhibits illustrating the history, mineral wealth and wildlife of Zimbabwe, including the second largest mounted elephant in the world.[3] It is one of the five national museums nationwide and the only natural history museum in Zimbabwe.

The museum has nine public display galleries, a lecture hall with a seating capacity of 120 people, a cafeteria, and eight research departments with substantial study collections and ongoing research in the following disciplines: Arachnology and invertebrates, Entomology, Ornithology, Mammology, Herpetology, Ichthyology, Paleontology and Geology and Archaeology.[4]


1901 - Cecil John Rhodes visited Bulawayo and received a request from the Rhodesia Scientific Board to build a museum to house their growing collection of minerals.

1 January 1902 - The Rhodesia Museum came into being with Mr F.P. Mennell as the Geologist and he was the first curator. At this time the museum was housed at the now Bulawayo Public Library.

September 1905 - the Museum Committee moved to the former Congregation Chapel after buying the Chapel. This museum was opened by Professor G Darwin, President of the British Association.

1910 - the now Parcels Office, situated at corner Fort Street and 8th Avenue was donated to the Museum Committee by the British South African Company.

21 August 1910 - informal opening

November 1910 - official opening by the Duke of Connaught, son of Queen Victoria.

1936 - the Government acquired the museum that was renamed the National Museum of Rhodesia.

1960 - land in Centenary park was availed by Bulawayo City Council and the building began

20 March 1964 - the museum was officially opened to the public. Up to this time the museum was mainly focused on economic ecology

1981 - the National Museums and Monuments streamlined the operations of its five museums and as a result the National Museum was renamed the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe. All the natural science collections from the other museums were moved to the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe.



The museum was built to house geology collections and therefore there are many geology exhibits in the museum. There is over 15 000 rock, gems and crystal samples. The collections include the rare, but famous Zambia broken hill lean/zinc minerals and kermesite specimens. The geology collections are housed in the Mennell Gallery, also called the Geology gallery. There is also a walk through mine, where visitors can actually get the feel of a typical Zimbabwean mine. [6]


The Palaeontological collection has over 2500 specimens that include plant fossils, various dinosaurs as well as early mammals, fish and other invertebrates.

It is presented in the Mennell Gallery where and the unique dinosaur fauna take the centre stage. [6]


The department was established in 1911. It holds over 5 million insects specimen, only a few are on public displays though. The larger percentage is housed in the George Arnold Entomological laboratory. [7]


The department was established in 1983 and holds over 20,000 spider specimen. [8]


The department holds a collection of fish, and on public displays they only have frogs displayed. [9]


The department collects reptile and amphibian specimen. Most of these are dead. Only a few snakes are living. It is housed in the Donald Broadley Gallery. Dr Broadley was the first appointed curator of the department when the department was established in 1956. [10]


The department of ornithology collects bird specimen (skins, nests, eggs, etc).


The department holds mammals specimen collections. These are mainly skins coming from the Department of Game and Fisheries, the Department of National Parks and the Department of Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Control[11]. The specimen in form of animals are housed in the Livingstone Sango-Moyo Gallery.

Archaeology and Monuments[edit]

The department is responsible for the preservation of history exhibits and structures in the museum. These exhibits are housed in the Hall of Kings and the Hall of Man.

Hall of Kings[edit]

Displays the history of Zimbabwe, but this history is mainly focused on the Matebele people or the Ndebele State in particular. There is little or nothing about the Rozvi State, Great Zimbabwe State and other kings who were not Ndebele State kings.

Hall of Man[edit]

Mainly for displaying the developments of humans from the early hominids to present. Well these men are mainly influential Rhodesians.


List of past and present curators [12]
Curator Department
George Arnold Entomology
Cranmer Cooke Archaeology
Roger Summers Archaeology
Neville Jones Archaeology
Elliot Charles Gordon Pinhey Entomology
Donald G. Broadley Herpetology
Michael Patrick Stuart Irwin Ornithology
Reay Henry Noble Smithers Ornithology
Alick Ndlovu Geology
Dorothy Madamba Entomology
Dr Moira Fitzpatrick Arachnology
Nobuhle Sithole Ichthyology
Tsitsi Maponga Mammalogy
Archaeology Archaeology

External Links[edit]

Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe Website


  1. ^ "Matobo National Park: History And Nature In Harmony". Nomad Tours. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  2. ^ Street Map of Bulawayo (Map). Surveyor General of Zimbabwe.
  3. ^ "City of Kings". Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Zimbabwe. Archived from the original on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
  4. ^ "Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe".
  5. ^ "History of the Museum".
  6. ^ a b "Geology and Paleontology in Zimbabwe".
  7. ^ "Entomology in Zimbabwe". Natural History Museum Of Zimbabwe. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  8. ^ "African Spiders: Arachnology in Zimbabwe - Museum of Zimbabwe". Natural History Museum Of Zimbabwe. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Ichthyology in Zimbabwe". Natural History Museum Of Zimbabwe. 15 October 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Herpetology in Zimbabwe". Natural History Museum Of Zimbabwe. 15 October 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Mammalogy in Zimbabwe". Natural History Museum Of Zimbabwe. 15 October 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  12. ^ "Renowned Past Curators". Natural History Museum Of Zimbabwe. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2019.

Coordinates: 20°09′21″S 28°35′47″E / 20.1558°S 28.5965°E / -20.1558; 28.5965