Museum of Natural Sciences

The Museum of Natural Sciences (French: Muséum des sciences naturelles, Dutch: Museum voor Natuurwetenschappen) is a museum in the Belgian capital of Brussels dedicated to natural history. The museum is a part of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Its most important pieces are 30 fossilized Iguanodon skeletons, which were discovered in 1878 in Bernissart. 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.

Like in most museums, there is a research department and a public exhibit department.


The museum 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, which dated from the 18th century. Bernard du Bus de Gisignies, became the first director of the museum in 1846. 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 which were mainly from whales. The museum also obtained the skeletons from a bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) and a young blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), which are still on display in the museum. In 1860 the skeleton of a mammoth was found near Lier and due to the prompt action of François-Joseph Scohy it was preserved and brought to the museum, where it has been on display since 1869. At that time the only other skeleton of a mammoth on display was in the museum of Saint Petersburg (Russia). In 1878, the largest find of Iguanodon fossils to date occurred in a coal mine at Bernissart in Belgium. At least 38 Iguanodon individuals were uncovered, of which 30 have been on display since they were moved here from their original home at the Palace of Charles of Lorraine in 1891.

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

Permanent exhibitions

  • 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, 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 you 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

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

See also

  • Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO)
  • Geological Survey of Belgium
  • Edmond de Sélys Longchamps
  • Lier mammoth

External links

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Olga Carbo
6 January 2016
Impressive collection of dinos, beautifully exposed. Explanations are quite old-fashioned and some interactive displays need maintenance, but overall worth the visit.
Carl Griffin
1 January 2016
The interactive displays make this museum a lot more than just a collection of stuffed animals.
Nicholas Hall
30 March 2016
Great museum with extensive exhibits, lovely architecture especially in the dinosaur area, insects on 4th floor is very extensive although in need of updating
Johan Coppens
5 January 2013
Too little known Museum (with a big M!) which surprised me with its extensive and diverse collections. Has some remarkable things in store, worth the visit if you ever find yourself in Brussels.
Greg H
30 January 2016
Architecture magnifique, collection exceptionnelle. Circulation labyrinthique. Pedagogiquement lamentable. Un bon résumé de notre belgitude: un patrimoine fantastique mais incapable de l'exploiter...
Lola Ravaldi
3 August 2016
Musée magnifique ! Pour les couples qui veulent être au calme, préférer le vendredi après midi pour faire votre visite.
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Anna Bogdanova, Андрей Гусаров and 38,331 more people have been here
Rue Vautier 29, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium Get directions
Tue-Fri 9:30 AM–5:00 PM
Sat-Sun 10:00 AM–6:00 PM

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