Museum of Natural Sciences

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Museum of Natural Sciences of Belgium
Muséum des sciences naturelles de Belgique  (French)
Museum voor Natuurwetenschappen van België  (Dutch)
Muséum des Sciences naturelles de Belgique (entrée).JPG
The entrance of the new museum building.
Museum of Natural Sciences is located in Brussels
Museum of Natural Sciences
Location within Brussels
LocationRue Vautier / Vautierstraat 29,
B-1000 City of Brussels, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium
Coordinates50°50′13″N 4°22′34″E / 50.837056°N 4.376167°E / 50.837056; 4.376167
TypeNatural history museum
Collection size37,000,000 [1]
DirectorCamille Pisani
WebsiteOfficial website

The Museum of Natural Sciences of Belgium (French: Muséum des sciences naturelles de Belgique, Dutch: Museum voor Natuurwetenschappen van België) is a museum dedicated to natural history, located in Brussels, Belgium.[2] The museum is a part of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Its most important pieces are 30 fossilised Iguanodon skeletons, which were discovered in 1878 in Bernissart, Belgium. The dinosaur hall of the museum is the world's largest museum hall completely dedicated to dinosaurs. Another famous piece is the Ishango bone, which was discovered in 1960 by Jean de Heinzelin de Braucourt in the Belgian Congo. The museum also houses a research department and a public exhibit department.


The Museum of Natural Sciences was founded on 31 March 1846, as a descendant of the Musée de Bruxelles of 1802. It was based on the collection established by Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine, dating from the 18th century. Belgian scientist and politician Bernard du Bus de Gisignies became the first director of the museum in 1846, and on this occasion, he donated 2474 birds from his own collection to the museum.

In 1860, during the construction of new fortifications around Antwerp, several fossils were found, mainly of whales, and they were acquired by the museum. The museum also obtained the skeletons of a bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) and a young blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), which are still on display today. The same year, the skeleton of a mammoth was unearthed near Lier, and due to the prompt action of archaeologist François-Joseph Scohy, it was preserved and brought to the museum, where it has been exhibited since 1869. At that time, the only other skeleton of a mammoth on display was in the museum of Saint Petersburg in Russia.

Louis Dollo supervising the mounting of an Iguanodon skeleton, between 1882 and 1885.

In 1878, the largest find of Iguanodon fossils to date occurred in a coal mine at Bernissart, in Hainaut, Belgium. At least 38 Iguanodon (Iguanodon bernissartensis) skeletons were uncovered, at a depth of 322 metres (1,056 feet),[3] of which 30 were brought back to the museum and put on display. They were mounted by Louis Dollo and set the standard that was followed for over a century. Found alongside the Iguanodon skeletons were the remains of plants, fish, and other reptiles,[3] including the crocodyliform Bernissartia.[4]

Between 1889 and 1891, the museum moved from its original home at the Palace of Charles of Lorraine into a former convent located on the heights of the park. The building quickly became too narrow and the director of the time, Edward Dupont, entrusted the architect Charles-Emile Janlet the construction of a new southern wing. Work began in 1898 and ended in October 1905. The new rooms were specially designed to accommodate the new collections.

In 1950, several modern buildings were added to house new exhibition and storage rooms, as well as premises for the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, the research centre of which the museum is now part.

Since 2007, the completely renovated and enlarged dinosaur hall (the Janlet wing) of 4580 m2 has been the largest dinosaur hall in the world.

Permanent exhibitions[edit]

Mounted Iguanodon skeletons in the Dinosaur hall
  • The Dinosaur hall: with the world-famous Iguanodon skeletons (30 almost complete skeletons)
  • Of Men and Mammoths: about the evolution of man and about the last ice age in Western Europe.
  • The Mammal Gallery: recent and extinct mammals, including a thylacine.
  • The North and South Pole: a view of two different worlds in a (plexi)glass tunnel.
  • The Whale Hall: skeletons of whales, dolphins, walruses, sirenians, and seals. A small part of the hall is devoted to the whales' role in the economy and their sacrifices to it.
  • The Shell Gallery houses a tropical aquarium and a complete survey of the lower classes of invertebrates. The nearby North Sea Discovery Room takes visitors on an interactive tour around beach and sea life at the Belgian coast. The entire collection consists of 9,000,000 specimens and is one of the three biggest shell collections in the world. A great deal was collected by Philippe Dautzenberg.
  • The Insect Gallery: insects, spiders, crustaceans and other arthropods, including a vivarium with living specimens. The collection consists of 15,000,000 specimens of which ten thousands are holotypes of great scientific value.
  • The Mineral Gallery: crystals, cut gems, meteorites and precious bits of moon rock.
  • The Ishango bone, a prehistoric bone counting tool.

In addition to these permanent exhibitions, there are also temporary exhibitions which are always highly interactive.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "Natural Sciences Museum". Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b Norman, David B. (1985). "To Study a Dinosaur". The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs: An Original and Compelling Insight into Life in the Dinosaur Kingdom. New York: Crescent Books. pp. 24–33. ISBN 0-517-46890-5.
  4. ^ Palmer, D. ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 100. ISBN 1-84028-152-9.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°50′13.4″N 4°22′34.2″E / 50.837056°N 4.376167°E / 50.837056; 4.376167