Once simple collections of stuffed animals and fossils, today natural history museums are more modern.
The natural history museum of Genoa is an institution of the city, created in 1867 thanks to the will of the Marquis Giacomo Doria, traveler and collector.
Even its headquarters is historic and very beautiful and with that aura of solemnity of other times that already fascinates from the outside.
The Natural History Museum of Genoa is an important museum that houses more than 4 million specimens of animals and plants brought to Italy in the 19th century by various Genoese explorers and ship captains.
The most fascinating things in the museum?
In my opinion they are the insects (there are millions of specimen), and the skeleton about 20 meters long of a whale that died in 1878 and was found on the beaches of Monterosso, near Genoa.
The rooms are distributed over two floors, some rooms house the mammals, two halls are dedicated to paleontology and temporary exhibitions. On the first floor you can find six rooms dedicated to other vertebrates: birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Two rooms are reserved for insects and other invertebrates.
The cell room houses the three-dimensional reconstruction of a cell magnified 100,000 times while the last stretch of the museum is the one dedicated to minerals, which I found really fantastic in addition to the main hall where you find a small but large elephant that will have you think you have a role in the movie “A night at the museum.”
The largest specimen in the museum is the skeleton of the whale from 1878 which stands out wonderfully and fascinatingly on a sea-blue wall, but also the skeleton of the ancient Italic elephant just mentioned above.
You have to look carefully because the museum tells us stories and adventures of animals and humans; animals that lived before us, specimens discovered by great nineteenth-century explorers, species extinct due to man and finally creatures that can be found in novels and films.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the museum, many panels for kids were added and placed alongside the panels ‘for adults’ and the ones for kids explain many curiosities about animals with a nice graphic that refers to cartoons.
Designed for the little ones, the course stimulates the spirit of observation through simple riddles and nursery rhymes as well as a language suitable for their age.
When I visited the museum with my three-year old son we had a lot of fun looking for these colored panels in the museum rooms, which help children understand the complexity of nature, invite them to observe and compare and stimulate their innate curiosity.
Like any museum or art collection, the Giacomo Doria Museum can also be visited independently, but for children I find that a guided activity or a tailor-made visit for them is much more stimulating.
The Museum has always organized workshops and activities for different age groups and all the activities are organized by the museum in collaboration with a museum educational association called “Can you tell me a story?”
For the very young kids aged 3 to 5, they organize activities with puppets, as well as fairy tales and songs to teach them about the animal world.
The older children (from 6 years old) can participate in quizzes and riddles.
There are also other activities and outings organized with botanists in search of plant species and others with marine biologists or paleontologists.
Genoa is a very child-friendly city with loads of activities and events organized for children and the best thing is that they are free or inexpensive.