The Senckenberg Nature Museum in Frankfurt is one of the largest natural history museums in Germany and shows the variety of life today and the evolution of creatures and transformation of our earth over millions of years. Exhibitions and museums are the showcase of natural science, through which Senckenberg shares the latest scientific findings with people and provides an insight into bygone eras. In an area covering 6,000 square metres, visitors can expect to see several thousand exhibits, some of them unique worldwide. In addition to the amazing diversity of flora and fauna today, visitors can discover the vastness of space and travel through times long ago – from the Big Bang to the formation of our planet. Every exhibit has its own little story to tell and gives an impression of the time and environment from which it comes. Dinosaurs, enormous whales and elephants, countless beetles, fish and colourful birds – with its rare and often spectacular exhibits, Senckenberg conveys to the public research and research results from every field of biology, palaeontology and geology.
Highlights of the permanent exhibitions are, for example, the original skeleton of a Diplodocus (a gift from Morris Ketchum Jesup, a former president of the American Museum of Natural History, New York, for the inauguration of the new museum building in 1907) or the fossilised mummy of an Edmontosaurus from Wyoming with preserved skin casts.
The Naturmuseum Senckenberg in Frankfurt Am Main is the second largest museum of natural history in Germany. It is particularly popular with children, who enjoy the extensive collection of dinosaur fossils: Senckenberg boasts the largest exhibition of large dinosaurs in Europe. One particular treasure is a dinosaur fossil with unique, preserved scaled skin. The museum contains the world’s largest and most diverse collection of stuffed birds with about 2000 specimens. In 2010, almost 517,000 people visited the museum.
The building housing the Senckenberg Museum was erected between 1904 and 1907 outside of the center of Frankfurt in the same area as the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, which was founded in 1914. The museum is owned and operated by the Senckenberg Nature Research Society, which began with an endowment by Johann Christian Senckenberg.
Today, visitors are greeted outside the building by large, life-size recreations of dinosaurs, which are based on the latest scientific theories on dinosaur appearance. Inside, one can follow the tracks of a Titanosaurus, which have been impressed into the floor, towards its impressive skeleton on a sheltered patio.
Attractions include a Diplodocus (donated by the American Museum of Natural History on the occasion of the present museum building’s inauguration in 1907), the crested Hadrosaur Parasaurolophus, a fossilized Psittacosaurus with clear bristles around its tail and visible fossilized stomach contents, and an Oviraptor. Big public attractions also include the Tyrannosaurus rex, an original of an Iguanodon, and the museum’s mascot, the Triceratops.
Although the dinosaurs attract the most visitors due to their size, the Senckenberg Museum also has a large collection of animal exhibits from every epoch of Earth’s history. For example, the museum houses a large number of originals from the Messel pit: field mice, reptiles, fish and a predecessor to the modern horse that lived about 50 million years ago and stood less than 60 cm tall.
Unique in Europe is a cast of the famous Lucy, an almost complete skeleton of the upright hominid Australopithecus afarensis. Historical cabinets full of stuffed animals are arranged in the upper levels; among other things one can see one of twenty existing examples of the quagga, which has been extinct since 1883.
Since the remodeling finished in 2003, the new reptile exhibit addresses both the biodiversity of reptiles and amphibians and the topic of nature conservation. An accessible rain forest tree offers views of different zones of the rain forest from the ground to the tree canopy and the habitats to which the exotic reptiles have adapted.
The Senckenberg Museum offers regular evening lectures and tours.