Der Gastgeber am Eingang. Naturhistorisches Museum Basel. Foto/Photo: TES.

Natural History Museum 200 Years

In 1821, Basel opened its first state museum, the Natural History Museum Basel (Naturhistorisches Museum Basel), in the Falkensteinerhof building on the Münsterplatz.

The specialist libraries, collections and research equipment were no longer scattered throughout the city but were under one roof.

Some collections date back to the Middle Ages and the Basler bourgeoisie’s passion for collecting in the early modern age.

Citizens laid back the foundation for the collections in the 17th century. Numerous objects came from the cabinet of the Basel physician Felix Platter (1536 – 1614). Other pieces date back to the Amerbach cabinet filled by the professor of law Basilius Amerbach (1533 – 1591).

At the start of the 19th century, the space needed for the collections increased after Peter Merian (1795 – 1883) gave his objects to the newly founded museum.

The museum’s collections comprise natural history objects from zoology, entomology, mineralogy, anthropology, osteology and palaeontology.

When Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft became two separate cantons in 1833, there were calls to split the collections. A court ruling, however, concluded that they were assets of the canton Basel-Stadt.

Since 1849, the museum has been housed in the late-classical monumental building on the Münsterhügel in the city’s heart. However, the museum will move to another building in 2028, the monumental Baugrube from the eighteenth century.

A museum is a place of national education. The museum combined Aula, event spaces and library rooms with natural and art history collections.

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