Germany’s oldest natural history museum

The museum’s history dates back to the collections of various Brunswick dukes. It has existed for more than 260 years and is, therefore, the oldest museum of natural history in Germany.

1754
CARL I. OF BRUNSWICK-LÜNEBURG establishes the ducal “Kunst- und Naturalienkabinett” on the first floor of “Großer Mosthof” in the old castle of Dankwarderode.


1765
The museum is moved to the armory, today’s site of the district government.


1857
The art collection and the natural history collection are separated. The natural history collection is combined with the collection of the “Collegium Carolinum”, the predecessor of the Braunschweig University of Technology. PROF. DR. JOHANN HEINRICH BLASIUS, who was a professor for natural history at the “Collegium Carolinum” since 1836, becomes the new museum director.

1871
PROF. DR. WILHELM BLASIUS (J.H. Blasius’s son) is appointed to the chair of zoology and botany and becomes the new museum director of the Ducal Museum of Natural History.


1877
The museum is moved to today’s Old Building of the Braunschweig University of Technology. In 1873 the mineralogical, geological, and paleontological collections were separated and assigned to the corresponding institute.


1912
After Wilhelm Blasius’s death, the chair in zoology remained vacant. Only a tenured professorship in botany was created and the post of the museum director is cut. The museum’s inspector HERMANN MEERWARTH manages the collection and the botanical specimens are moved to the Institute of Botany.

1921
Due to the efforts of the young zoologist DR. GERD VON FRANKENBERG, the museum is moved to the castle of Brunswick instead of being stored and archived. Thus, the museum is opened to the public once again.


1928
Frankenberg becomes the director of the museum but has to resign from office in 1933 for political reasons.

1933
The Museum of Natural History is combined with the Institute of General Biology and Zoology. PROF. DR. CURT KOSSWIG is appointed to the chair and becomes the new museum director.

1937
The museum is moved to the newly constructed “Bernhard-Rust-Hochschule” on Pockelsstraße. Kosswig has to go into exile abroad. The public collections were not opened during the war.


1944
Luckily, the museum was spared during the air raids in Brunswick, but it has to house several institutes of the heavily damaged university.


1945
Frankenberg returns to Brunswick. Once again he holds the chair for zoology and becomes the museum director, but he only stays for three years.


1948
DR. ADOLF KLEINSCHMIDT becomes the provisional head of the museum. In 1951 he is appointed curator.

1950
PROF. DR. CAESAR BOEETGER is appointed tenured professor of zoology and museum director. The first dioramas and exhibitions are designed and set up.

1958
PROF. DR. FRIEDRICH SCHALLER becomes the tenured professor of zoology and the museum’s new director. Modern didactic methods are considered for exhibitions and the general design of the museum.


1967
PROF. DR. CARL HAUENSCHILD succeeds Prof. Schaller. Even though personnel and finance are handled individually, the museum and institute are still under one leadership. The aquarium is installed in the basement.


1977
From now on, the joint positions of museum director and tenured professor of zoology are separated. PROF. DR. OTTO VON FRISCH becomes the director of the museum. The publicity is expanded through major special exhibitions and the department for museum education is established.


1995
PROF. DR. GERHARD BOENIK becomes the museum director.


2003
PROF. DR. ULRICH JOGER is appointed as museum director.


2004
The museum’s 250th anniversary is celebrated. 

2012-2015
The ground floor and the outdoor facilities of the museum are being rebuilt. A total of 1.9 million Euros are donated by the state of Lower Saxony, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and the generous patrons from the city of Brunswick. 240 m2 of new exhibition area are constructed.

2019
The museum acquires the collection of rocks and minerals from the TU Braunschweig. A new permanent exhibition is in the works.

2020
The newly designed Bird Hall opens.