Naturmuseum Winterthur

The Naturmuseum Winterthur is a museum in Winterthur in the Swiss canton of Zurich. It is located in the same building as the Winterthur Art Museum at Museumstrasse 52.

The holdings of today's museum are based, among other things, on the natural history collection of the Winterthur Citizens' Library (now the Winterthur City Library), which dates back to 1660. At that time, the library collected not only books and manuscripts but also curiosities, works of art, historical artefacts, coins and natural objects. These included a three-metre-long crocodile, which was donated to the library by Bartholomäus Schobinger in 1664 and is still on display today. The natural history collection was housed in the town hall on Marktgasse until 1842. It was then moved to the Knabengymnasium (now the Kunst Museum Winterthur Reinhart am Stadtgarten).

The library system was professionalised in the 19th century. In 1862, the natural history collection was outsourced and transferred to its own organisation, although it was still supervised by the library convention. During this time, the collection was greatly expanded. On the one hand through targeted acquisitions and on the other through the ethnological collections, which were expanded by Winterthur merchants with objects from Africa, America, the Far East and India. These included the private collection of Johann Heinrich Ziegler and his son Jakob (1775-1863).

The botanist and teacher Robert Keller became the first curator of the collection in 1886. He contributed an extensive local hebrary to the collection.

In 1916, the collection moved to the current museum building. Since 1914, the collection has been supported by the Museum Commission of the Natural Science Society of Winterthur (NGW). At that time, the exhibition was characterised by generously designed showcases with animal specimens. In the 1970s, the museum concept was modernised under the then director Kurt Madlinger. The museum now focussed increasingly on special and temporary exhibitions. In 1996, an age-appropriate programme for children and families was introduced for the first time with the "Kerala" children's museum[1].

Under curator Hans-Konrad Schmutz, the museum was completely remodelled between 2001 and 2005 and reopened under the name Naturmuseum Winterthur. The animal specimens previously on display were stored and the permanent exhibition was reduced in size. This created space for different exhibitions and event formats. In 2006, the Naturmuseum Winterthur was awarded the Swiss Prix Expo for "breaking new museological ground" and the "dedusting of scientific content" (from the jury's statement).

In 2007, the museum was nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award.


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