Senckenberg Nature Museum

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Senckenberg Nature Museum
Frankfurt am Main-Senckenberg Nature Museum from the East -20120325.jpg
Senckenberg Natural History Museum from the East, March 2012
place Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt / Main Coordinates: 50 ° 7 ′ 3 ″  N , 8 ° 39 ′ 6 ″  EWorld icon
architect Ludwig Neher
opening 1821
(Public natural history cabinet southeast of the Eschenheimer Tor)

October 13, 1907
(new museum building at today's location)

Number of visitors (annually) 517,000 (2011)
ISIL DE-MUS-047910

The Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt am Main is one of the largest and most important natural history museums in Europe . Several thousand exhibits on various natural history topics are presented on an exhibition area of ​​6,000 m² .


The Senckenberg Nature Museum is located on the Senckenberganlage in the Westend-Süd district and is enclosed on three sides by the Bockenheim campus of the Goethe University . There is a replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex on the forecourt .


Dinosaur replica in front of the museum

With visitors particularly popular, especially in children who are dinosaurs - Skeletons of the Natural History Museum : The Senckenberg Museum presents one of the largest exhibitions of large group dinosaurs in Europe . A special treasure is the original of a petrified dinosaur with preserved, flaky skin. The nature museum also houses the world's largest and most diverse collection of birds with around 1,000 specimens . In 2010 almost 517,000 visitors were registered (2009: 620,000, 2008: 348,000).

As a research museum , the Senckenberg Research Institute and Nature Museum is a member of the Leibniz Association . The museum also has a large Conchylia collection , a large part of the collection is based on purchases or donations from private collectors .

Since January 1, 2009, the Natural History Collections Dresden and the Natural History Museum Görlitz have merged with the Senckenberg Research Institute and the Natural History Museum.



The Natural Research Association, founded in 1817 by 32 Frankfurt citizens, received, among others at the suggestion of Goethe , the permission of the Dr. Senckenberg Foundation to use the name Senckenberg for his work. As early as 1821, as a forerunner of the later museum building, a “public natural history cabinet ” was founded southeast of the Eschenheimer Tor . The new association took over parts of the library and the basis of the natural history collection from the foundation .


At the beginning of the 20th century, the museum had to give way at its original location under pressure from the Frankfurt city administration. The Senckenberg area, on which the original Bürgerhospital , the Frankfurt Botanical Garden and an anatomical institute were built, was to be built with residential and commercial buildings.

The current building of the Senckenberg Natural History Museum was erected in the years 1904–1907 on an open area outside of Frankfurt's core city according to plans by the architect Ludwig Neher (1850–1916), in the immediate vicinity of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, which was founded in 1914 . The building owner and to this day the sponsor (and co-founder of the university) was and is the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research , which can only be traced back indirectly to the foundation of Johann Christian Senckenberg in 1763. The new museum building was inaugurated on October 13, 1907.

Outsourcing in World War II

Atrium after the bombing in March 1944

The museum was hit by a bomb in March 1944. Windows, doors and cupboards were destroyed. Show pieces were then placed in alternative camps. In the Burg Hirschhorn am Neckar boxes were with birds, bird skins shifted and mammal skins. From June 8, 1948, the exhibits were brought back to the Senckenberg Museum at the instigation of the American military government in Wiesbaden, Fine Arts and Monuments Department . The alternative camp on the Glauburg was destroyed by fighting on April 2, 1945.

Expansion plans

In the coming years it is planned to significantly expand the exhibition space of the nature museum. In a first step at the end of 2008, an additional exhibition hall was built in wood in the backyard. It was demolished again in 2014. An extension of the nature museum is to be built there, in which a new planetarium will also be integrated. The new museum concept will deal with the subjects of man, earth, cosmos and the future. The appearance of the old buildings has been changed significantly by the architect Peter Kulka , even though they are listed. This led to supra-regional controversies about monument protection.

The mythological decoration of the pediment

The figures depicted on the facade above the main entrance are borrowed from both Greek and Roman mythology. At the very top, over the entire facade, is Chronos . He is accompanied by two putti and is depicted as an old man with an hourglass and scythe - as a symbol for the passage of time and for death .

To the left and right of Chronos - on the arch of the gable - there are two boys who hold animals in their hands: the boy on the left a bird, the one on the right a fish - this symbolizes the division of the world into the spheres of air, sea and life Earth.

To the left of the three gable windows, Europa is sitting on a bull . Europe was a lover of the god father Zeus , who fell in love with her and approached her in the form of a bull. This bull abducted Europe on his back to Crete , where he transformed back into Zeus and with her fathered several offspring. Europe settled on the island, so that its history can be interpreted as a symbol for “arrival”, “giving birth” and “settlement of the earth” and thus also as a symbol for the terrestrial area.

To the right of the three gable windows, on the same level as Europe, Poseidon , the god of the sea , is enthroned on a hippocampus - a hybrid of horse (front) and fish (back).

Immediately below Chronos, within the semicircular relief made of red sandstone , there is a seated female figure who is writing something on her writing board: Calliope , one of the nine muses . She was the muse of epic poetry, string-playing - and science.


Permanent exhibition

Today the visitor is greeted by two replicas of large dinosaurs in front of the building , the exterior of which was modeled in original size using the latest scientific findings.

ground floor

In the building you can follow the reconstructed, in the ground embedded track of a Titanosaurus in the covered atrium with dinosaur skeletons.


The 18 species presented are the most extensive exhibition of dinosaurs in Germany. The largest skeleton is an 18-meter-long Diplodocus from the Bone Cabin Quarry in Wyoming (USA). The skeleton of a sauropod , assembled from original parts except for the skull, was the first dinosaur exhibited in the Senckenberg Nature Museum and was given to the Senckenberg Society for Natural Research on the occasion of the opening of the new museum building on Viktoria-Allee in 1907 by the American Museum of Natural History .

Original skull of
Triceratops horridus , the complete piece is approximately 2.5 meters in length
Reconstruction of a Triceratops skeleton

The hadrosaur Parasaurolophus with the curved crest of the skull, Psittacosaurus with the clearly dissected bristles in the tail area as well as the clearly visible fossil stomach contents and Oviraptor on the original dinosaur layers are part of Europe's largest exhibition of large dinosaurs, which also includes the cast of a " Quetzalcoatlus " ("Quetzi") , the largest known pterosaur , counts. Further crowd pullers are copies of Tyrannosaurus rex , Iguanodon and Triceratops from the Upper Cretaceous North America, of which two original skulls are on display ( Triceratops horridus from the Lance Formation, Wyoming (USA)). The complete copy is the "heraldic animal" of the Senckenberg Nature Museum. The fossil mummy of a duck-billed hadrosaur is extremely rare .

Although the dinosaurs attract most visitors because of their size, the Senckenberg Nature Museum has a large collection of exhibits of extinct animals from all geological epochs in the adjoining rooms of the atrium, for example a large number of originals from the Messel oil shale mine : bats , Reptiles , fish and the early horse Propalaeotherium hassiacum , which lived around 50 million years ago and was only 55 to 60 centimeters high at the shoulder.

Fossil aquatic animals

In other side rooms of the atrium, which were redesigned in the 1970s, fossil water-dwelling animals can be seen. In room 9 (formerly 7) the fossils of invertebrates of prehistoric times such as sponges , brachiopods , bryozoa and trilobites .

Fossil vertebrates are shown in room 6, including primeval armored fish ( ostracodermi ), cartilaginous fish, cartilage organoids and coelacanth . Furthermore, the Senckenberg Museum also has a large collection of aquatic dinosaurs such as the serpentine dinosaur Peloneustes philarchus , nothosaurs , mosasaurs and ichthyosaurs .

Second atrium

In the second atrium, prehistoric and recent mammals are shown, especially from the order of the proboscis and whales . The most striking exhibits are the skeleton of a fin whale and that of the primeval elephant ( mastodon ).

Evolution of man

A replica of " Lucy's " skeleton

Unique in Europe is also in an upright position assembled cast of the skeleton of " Lucy ," one of the skeletons obtained at most of Australopithecus afarensis .

Because of the renovation work, Lucy's skeleton is currently shown on the first floor.

Historical geology

In the basement of adjoining room 9 (formerly 7) from the 1970s, a large collection of rocks and minerals is shown. The cycle of rocks is also clearly shown.

The more recent exhibition on the development history of the earth and life in rooms 14 and 15 is supplemented by a " time machine ": With the help of a large time wheel, you can travel 750 million years into the past - or 250 million years into the future , which the visitor can see gives an idea of ​​how the earth has changed and will change since it was formed. The quick overview of the continental drift can be to the surrounding stations of the Earth's history in terms of place, so that, among other well understand why today in rocks in inland fossil marine animals are found.

First floor

On the first floor there are several rooms with dry-prepared ("stuffed") birds and mammals in historical showcases from the early 20th century. They have not yet been renewed and therefore represent a “museum within a museum”. Among other things, one of the 23 surviving specimens of the quaggas , an extinct plains zebra , which has been extinct since 1883 , can be seen there. A hide of the extinct giant alken (Pinguinus perennis) is also shown. The birds and mammals are presented according to the biological systematics of these vertebrate classes.

In contrast, the rooms were redesigned with reptiles and amphibians as well as for the evolution of plants, which contain numerous fossils of ancient plant species from the Devonian and Carboniferous . The shore leave of the plants is also explained.

The reptile exhibition, which was redesigned for the reopening after the renovation in 2003, takes on the subject of nature conservation in addition to the biodiversity of reptiles and amphibians: An iguana protection project initiated by Senckenberg scientists in Utila in Honduras is presented as well as the possibilities in one's own garden To create living conditions for native reptiles and amphibians . A tree in a tropical rainforest that can be walked on offers insights into different zones of the rainforest from the ground to the treetop, in order to make the habitats of the exotic reptiles tangible.

Another permanent exhibition on the first floor deals with particularly large and particularly tiny creatures under the motto "Giants and Dwarfs".

Second story

The exhibition rooms for insects , fish and marine invertebrates , which were redesigned in the 1980s, are located on the second floor . Dioramas with native mammals can be seen in a long corridor . Special exhibitions are shown in other rooms. A bistro was also installed here.

Due to the ongoing renovation work, the crustaceans and arachnids cannot currently be shown.

Special and changing exhibitions

  • Body worlds of animals (October 15, 2011 - March 15, 2012)
  • The fascination of spiders (03.03.2012 - 03.06.2012)
  • Wunderkammer Wissenschaft (May 15, 2012 - June 2, 2012)
  • Bernhard Grzimek and his legacy for Frankfurt and the world - 40 years of the World Heritage Convention (07/05/2012 - 07/19/2012)
  • What to do? About the meaning of human work (May 1, 2012 - September 16, 2012)
  • World shattering - Alfred Wegener's theory turns 100 (01/06/2012 - end of 2012)
  • Light and color (05.10.2012 - 13.01.2013)
  • Poster exhibition of the Mainz University of Applied Sciences (April 12, 2013 - April 28, 2013)
  • Room with insight. Philosophical ideas in a model ( May 3, 2013 - June 9, 2013 )
  • Arthur von Weinberg - entrepreneur, founder, Senckenberger (19.07.2013 - 03.11.2013)
  • Between the worlds: nature conservation on the sea and coasts (08.08.2013 - 01.09.2013)
  • Mechanical wildlife (11/14/2013 - 02/23/2014)
  • 7 billion others. Video exhibition by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (03/14/2014 - 09/21/2014)
  • "Architect". Photo exhibition by Ingo Arndt (October 2nd, 2014 - January 11th, 2015)
  • Grasslands, yaks and wild horses - From Tibet to the Gobi Desert (05.12.2014 - 19.04.2015)
  • "Horses". Photo exhibition by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (January 16, 2015 - March 15, 2015)
  • Form follows foot - Georg Hermann von Meyer (1815-1892) and the shoe shape (April 24, 2015 - July 19, 2015)
  • "Worldviews". The photo exhibition of the Terra Mater magazine (April 30, 2015 - May 28, 2015)
  • Senckenberg's Hidden Treasures (07/17/2015 - 01/10/2016)
  • 365 eyes - looks of life (07/30/2015 - 10/31/2015)
  • The center of the world (11/13/2015 - 01/31/2016)
  • It's not an age yet! Shaping my future in Frankfurt (05.02.2016 - 24.04.2016)
  • Handy metamorphoses. Photo exhibition by Wilma Nyari ( 04/28/2016 - 07/17/2016)
  • Spiders (07/15/2016 - 01/08/2017)
  • The thin skin of the earth - our soils (01/20/2017 - 07/23/2017)
  • Archeopteryx No. 11 - The Urvogel visits Senckenberg (06.06.2018 - 31.12.2020)
  • Coral reefs - threatened treasures of the oceans (08.06.2018 - 31.05.2019)
  • Trees of Life - Tales for a Damaged Planet (10.10.2019 - 16.02.2020)
  • Making Crises Visible (02/12/2020 - 06/02/2020)
  • Shaping the future - how do we want to live? (05/28/2019 - 09/30/2020)
  • Edmonds Urzeitreich - A dinosaur excavation in Frankfurt (04.06.2020 - 25.10.2020)


The Senckenberg Nature Museum offers lectures and guided tours (usually no extra charge for admission) on scientific topics on Wednesday evenings. In addition, guided tours for school classes on various topics (e.g. evolution, biodiversity and geological history) can be booked.


(in chronological order)

  • Oskar Böttger : Catalog of the Batrachier collection in the museum of the Senckenberg Natural Research Society in Frankfurt am Main. Gebrüder Knauer, Frankfurt am Main 1892 ( digitized in the Internet Archive ).
  • The new building of the scientific institutes of the Senckenberg Foundation on Viktoria-Allee and the Jügelhaus on Jordan-Straße in Frankfurt am Main. In: Deutsche Bauzeitung . 42nd year. Berlin 1908.
    • No. 86 (October 24, 1908), pp. 585-589.
    • No. 87 (October 28, 1908), pp. 593-597.
    • No. 90 (7 November 1908), pp. 613, 616-620.
  • Wilhelm Schäfer : History of the Senckenberg Museum in plan - Chronicle of the Senckenberg Natural Research Society 1817-1966. ( Senckenberg book, No. 46). Kramer, Frankfurt am Main 1967, ISBN 3-7829-1017-6 .
  • Wilhelm Schäfer (Ed.): Learn in the Museum - 182 topics on natural history from the Senckenberg Museum. Kramer, Frankfurt am Main 1972, ISBN 3-7829-1038-9 .
  • Klemens Mörmann (ed.): The German museum guide in color. Museums and collections in the Federal Republic of Germany and West Berlin. Book guild Gutenberg, Frankfurt am Main / Olten / Vienna 1983, DNB 870131540 , p. 340.
  • Peter Stepan (ed.): The German museums. Westermann's colored guide through all important museums and collections. Westermann Sachbuch, Braunschweig 1983, ISBN 3-14-508854-8 , p. 177.
  • Hessischer Museumsverband (Hrsg.): Museums in Hessen. A handbook of the publicly accessible museums and collections in the state of Hesse. 4th, completely revised and expanded edition. Hessischer Museumsverband, Kassel 1994, ISBN 3-9800508-8-2 , pp. 284-286.
  • Willi Ziegler (Ed.): Senckenberg Natural History Museum - guide through the exhibition. 30th edition. Kramer, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-7829-1108-3 .
  • Udo Becker: On the history of the zoological preparation of the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt am Main. (= Kleine Senckenberg series, No. 28). Kramer, Frankfurt am Main 1997, ISBN 3-7829-1152-0 .
  • Christoph Hahn, Siegmar Hohl (ed.): The great museum guide. Collections on art, culture, nature and technology in Germany. Bassermann Verlag, Gütersloh / Munich 2000, ISBN 978-3-8094-5013-9 , pp. 193-194.
  • Wolf-Christian Setzepfandt : Architecture Guide Frankfurt am Main / Architectural Guide . 3. Edition. Dietrich Reimer Verlag, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-496-01236-6 , p. 38 (German, English).
  • Ulrich Jansen, Peter Königshof, Fritz F. Steininger (eds.): Witnesses of the Earth's History - A travel guide to the most beautiful fossils in German natural history museums. ( Senckenberg book, No. 75). 2nd, revised and expanded edition. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 978-3-510-61364-9 , pp. 62–63.
  • Birgid Groscurth, Bastian Groscurth: When the lights go out in the museum ... On the trail of dinosaurs, whales and elephants. (= Children's guide through the exhibition). Baumhaus-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 978-3-8339-0466-0 .
  • Dieter Stefan Peters , Gerald Mayr , Karin Böhm: Extinct and endangered birds in the collections of the Senckenberg Research Institute and Nature Museum. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart 2014, ISBN 978-3-510-61368-7 .
  • Volker Mosbrugger et al. (Ed.): Eye to eye with nature - Senckenberg Naturmuseum Frankfurt. Senckenberg Society for Nature Research, Frankfurt am Main 2015, ISBN 978-3-929907-90-2 .
  • Andreas Hansert : The Senckenberg Research Museum in National Socialism - Truth and Poetry. Wallstein, Göttingen 2018, ISBN 978-3-8353-3173-0 .

Web links

Commons : Naturmuseum Senckenberg  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Doris von Eiff: Visitor numbers in the Senckenberg Nature Museum remain at a high level. In: February 3, 2011, accessed July 6, 2020 .
  2. IDW: Visitor numbers in the Senckenberg Nature Museum remain at a high level. February 3, 2011, accessed July 19, 2020 .
  3. Ludwig Heyer: Alternative camp Schloss Hirschhorn. In: Our country. Home calendar for Neckar Valley, Odenwald, building land and Kraichgau. 2015. Verlag Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung GmbH, Heidelberg 2014. ISBN 978-3-936866-57-5 . Pp. 59-61.
  4. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung No. 246 of October 22, 2010, p. 41
  5. The world is building your museum. Retrieved October 22, 2018 .
  6. ^ Peter Kulka Architektur , accessed on March 2, 2018
  7. Rainer Schulze: Reconstruction of the Senckenberg Museum: “A wet dream for preservationists” in: . January 27, 2014
  8. ^ Curriculum Vitae by Andreas Mulch. In: Retrieved July 20, 2020 .
  9. Bernd Herkner: Diplodocus. The first dinosaur in the Senckenberg Museum. In: Natur und Museum , Volume 137, Issue 9/10, 2007
  10. Hartmut Haubold: The dinosaurs . The Neue Brehm Library, A. Ziemsen Verlag. Wittenberg Lutherstandt, 1990.
  11. ^ Schools & Daycare Centers · Senckenberg Museum Frankfurt. Retrieved February 12, 2020 .