Holidays With Crys: Naturkundemuseum


On our second day in Berlin, we decided to wander Berlin Mitte and try to see a few art exhibits and museums. We found some very, very elegant parts, gorgeous in their own right, and some cooler parts of the neighborhood as well. We had little luck with the art exhibits: one was torn down, one was closed, and one needed to be booked well in advance because it was in an old bunker, so they do not let visitors wander it on their own lest they get lost. We ended up in Berlin’s Natural History Museum almost by accident. Little did I know that I had just stumbled into the best Natural History Museum I have ever been in. The world’s largest fully assembled Brachiosaurus skeleton in the world greeted us at the entrance, and I stopped in my tracks, feeling a little emotional.

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You can see people in the picture, to give you an indication of scale. Still, no picture can really give the idea of what it’s like to see a real, assembled skeleton up close. It really hits home, these animals were real. They are not just fodder for fun stories and movies, they actually used to walk this Earth, and take a swim in these seas.

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Not to mention the fact that dragons were real as well.

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They also had the classic stuffed and classic skeletons of extant species, but the specimen room reawakened the Zoologist in me. My pictures couldn’t do it justice, but the far superior photographers who work for the museum managed to produce a great one for their website.

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Consider the two shadowy figures of people on the left for scale. That shows only two walls of a square room, one that is not empty, but also filled with a labyrinth of more shelves, totaling over 1 million specimens.

I could move to Berlin just for this museum. All I need is my sketchbook and my old classification guides, and I will sit there for weeks sketching and identifying them. It was mesmerizing, but the absolute star of the place was this famous celebrity that I had no idea lived in Berlin.

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Archaeopteryx. THE Archaeopteryx from all of my textbooks, all of my lessons on evolution, is in Berlin. My father didn’t get it, and left me there staring at it for a good ten minutes as I almost teared up again.

For a Zoology nerd such as myself, this place could be the ultimate highlight of this city, even if it wasn’t so cool for a thousand other reasons.

Comments

  1. miserble git says

    Something similar happened to me many years ago on a rugby tour to Paris. For reading material I had brought with me The History of the World in 10½ Chapters by Julian Barnes and had just finished it. After one quite hedonistic night I somehow the next morning dragged my self to the Louvre. As the body and mind started to revolt and demand I find a cafe or my bed I sat down and looked up. In front of me was Géricault’s painting, The Raft of the Medusa. I was transfixed. Eventually I dragged myself away. To this day this is my favorite moment in any museum or gallery.

    The book is based on the painting, and my stumbling on it was a wonderful coincidence.

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