THE TRIESTE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
The first section of the Civic Museum of Natural History of Trieste was founded in 1846, by a group of private citizens, as a "Zoological-Anatomical Laboratory". The private Museum was directed by Heinrich Koch, a Swiss trader, amateur naturalist and numismatist. At that time a lot of researchers were interested in studying the sea and the landscape around Trieste and all the history of the Museum was affected by the peculiar environments of Venezia Giulia and by the related studies. In 1852 the Institute was donated to the city of Trieste and in 1856 the Museum moved to "Piazza Lipsia n°1015" (now piazza Attilio Hortis n°4, the present seat of the Museum). At that time the Museum was called: "Civic Museum Ferdinando Massimiliano", in Austrian Archduke's honour, brother of the emperor Franz Joseph. Nowadays the Civic Museum of Natural History of Trieste is waiting for change its seat again, since the present building is too little to hold and expose the rich collections and to maintain the scientific and didactic activities.
Today the Museum has several scientific and expositive collections and a library with more than 14000 books and 40000 reviews. Under the direction of the Civic Museum of Natural History of Trieste, there are also three other different institutes such as the Sea-Aquarium, the Civic Botanical Gardens and the SEA-, SHIP- AND FISHING-MUSEUM (with very rich and important collections as, for instance, some original parts of the ship “Elettra” of the famous scientist and inventor Guglielmo Marconi).
The Botanical Collections of the Civic Museum of Natural History of Trieste consist on more than 30 herbariums and other material belonged to illustrious scientists.
In the Zoological Collections, it is very important the Entomological one, consisting on many thousand of specimens from Venezia Giulia and from several other parts of the world. Most of the specimens (mainly coleopterans) belongs to the collections of Giuseppe Müller, famous entomologist and director of the Museum from 1928 to 1945. The Ichthyological Collections of the Civic Museum of Natural History of Trieste includes a great number of specimens, particularly sea-water ones. The FISH COLLECTION consists mainly on SHARKS and specimens of the beginning of the century, representing a concrete evidence of the original rich Ichthyofauna of the North-Adriatic regions. The Herpetological Collection has a great scientific and historical importance: it is composed (at present) of more than 3000 specimens and includes the entire herpetofauna of North-Adriatic regions. A very rich collection is also the Ornithological one, consisting on more than 4 thousand specimens (including nests, eggs, skeletons and beaks) from Venezia Giulia and several other parts of the world (including a unique collection of stuffed humming-birds -Trochilidae). The Theriological Collections of the Civic Museum of Natural History of Trieste includes a number of skulls, skeletons and stuffed specimens, particularly exotic and sea-water mammals.
The Geological, Mineralogical and Palaeontological Collections are composed of interesting material belonging mainly from excavations and caves of the Karst. The Palaeontological one consists of several fossils of Quaternary mammals (remains of at least 300 bears, mainly Ursus spelaeus and U. ligusticus) but also of CRETACEOUS REPTILES AND DINOSAURS (Duck-beak dino -Dolichosauridae, Aigialosauridae, crocodiles, all from the Karst of Trieste) and a very rich collection of fossil fish (mainly Karstic Cretaceous Ichthyofauna of 95 millions years ago, like the first European specimen of Tselfatia formosa, but also interesting specimens from the Croatian island of Hvar). The fossil insects from Radoboj (Cro) and the more than 2000 fossil remains of plants from Trbovlije (Slo) are very interesting as well. Finally, it is also noteworthy the ANTHROPOLOGICAL COLLECTION: recently improved and planned in a didactic way, with a unique sequence of casts and local finds it provides an evidence of the entire EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY OF MAN.
The Civic Museum of Natural History of Trieste has also a COLLECTION OF SHELLS AND CORALS and a Teratological collection. Unfortunately, for reasons of rooms, many collections of the Museum are only partly exposed or even not exposed at all.
Nowadays the Museum activity is directed towards the scientific research applied to the conservation and the management of endangered biotopes and species of North-Adriatic regions end/or the study and protection of karstic habitats. To reach these tasks in 2000 were founded the SECTION OF BIOKARSTIC STUDIES of the Museum that concentrate its activity in every aspect of karstic habitat conservation: from didactic and education to field and laboratory research. At the same time the Museum continues the improving of the study-collections, the enrichment of the library, and the providing of scientific and technical supply to researchers and graduating students.
Above all, today the Civic Museum of Natural History of Trieste encourages and promotes several initiatives about education, didactic and public information, in collaborations with universities, schools and others cultural and conservationistic associations. In particular the staff of the Museum:
organises lectures and prepares exhibitions concerning arguments of special interest in Natural History and Nature Conservation;
organises and promotes refresher courses for teachers;
co-ordinates some didactic programmes of Education to Nature Conservation by environmental training during Primary and Secondary School and by specific courses and seminary at the University of Trieste;
co-ordinates programmes of study, protection and habitat management of important biotopes such as ponds, caves and karstic landscape.