The History Of Madrid's Natural Science Museum In 1 Minute

Culture Trip

The National Natural Science Museum in Madrid is one of Spain‘s oldest museums, founded in the year 1772 by King Charles III. Today it remains an important center for conservation and research in the natural sciences and one of Madrid’s most popular attractions.
The origins of the museum can be traced to the donation of a private collection owned by a Spanish merchant and naturalist Pedro F. Dávila. After having refused several offers to purchase his collection, he offered to donate it to King Charles III on the condition that they become part of a public collection known as the Real Gabinete de Historia Natural de Madrid. This is the predecessor to many of Madrid’s museums today, including the National Archaeological Museum and the Museum of the Americas. For a long time the Royal Botanic Garden and Royal Zoo also formed part of the museum until they separated in 1867 and the Royal Archaeological Museum was created. After a number of changes of location, in 1907 the museum finally settled in its current residence, the former Palace of Industry and Arts. The palace had been constructed by Spanish architect Fernando de la Torriente for the National Exhibition of Industry and Arts in 1801.

© José-Manuel Benito Álvarez / WikiCommons

The museum suffered greatly during the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship, and it was not restored to its former glory until the mid 1980s when the government decided to invest in major restructuring. Today the museum counts over six million pieces in its collection and employs over 300 people across the board. Its many areas of research and conservation are biogeography and climate change, biodiversity and evolutionary biology, evolutionary ecology, geology, and paleo-biology. It aims to act as an important educational center and organizes a series of workshops and temporary exhibits throughout the year, including special workshops for children and young adults.

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