Austria: Salzburg Haus Der Natur Museum
Travel Date : 7th July 2013
Location: Salzburg, Austria
Over a weekend, we decided to visit Salzburg again, this time to the Museum of Natural History and Technology, Haus De Natur Museum.
We intended to stay the day there to fully explore the place and let our child learn some interesting facts. This museum is highly praised in reviews as a child-friendly museum. I wanted to visit its Dinosaur exhibit with fossils and take a look at the beautiful landscaped aquariums. We are interested as we owned two landscaped fish tanks too.
With the long travelling time we experienced for train travel, we had since switched to renting a car with the help of Vin’s company. His company kindly provided a GPS so we had no problems following the instructions to drive anywhere. Just key in the destination and drive! Therefore, this week, we rented a car to go straight to Salzburg in an hour instead of transferring trains for more than two hours.
Driving to Salzburg
The first time we came by train, we were quite surprised at these horse-carriages moving on the road, sharing it with cars and buses. This time, we were inside and we ended up moving slowly behind one! I think car owners have to have a lot of patience in Salzburg city as there’s no other way to move ahead but to drive slowly behind it. We also saw two clever elderly cyclists behind the horse carriages. This way, they would be in no danger from the cars behind them. Look at the pictures below.
When we reached the underground car park where we were supposed to park the car, we panicked a little with the directions. The ‘lady’ told us to turn left but it was a sharp turn and didn’t look possible. The traffic was upon us. What to do?! I immediately spotted one slightly further away and we quickly just drove into it. As we got down from the car, we were laughing at ourselves a little.
Walking through the underground garage was a sight-seeing experience itself because this underground car park was built directly into the mountain. The walls were stony and cold air was blowing through. There were several exhibits and posters along the way showing Salzburg’s culture.
We reached the entrance soon after and couldn’t quite believe it for a moment.
The whole place looked really ordinary and if they didn’t have the ‘Haus Der Natur’ Museum written on it, we would have thought it was just an apartment building. Not the idea we have of a museum that is quite famous in tourism.
We dumped our belongings in a locker room to the side of the entrance and proceeded to buy our tickets. They often have this facility available for visitors to the museum. We just have to drop in a 1 Euro or 2 Euro coin, close the locker and get the key. Later, when we take our belongings out, the coin would be returned to us. It’s absolutely free! I couldn’t believe it at first because we hadn’t encountered free things so far in Europe.
Next, we entered the First exhibit we had come for. The Dinosaur Exhibit.
The animated Dinosaur roared loudly and move its head around, scaring Dar. We told him this is just animatronics, that they are not real. He was still a bit apprehensive in walking around the place with the roaring dinosaur behind his back. I just held onto his hand then and led him around. The hall was quite small, only about the size of a living room. I was a little disappointed but I guess I can’t ask for more since this museum houses plenty of exhibits and is not an exclusive dinosaur museum.
We saw dinosaur fossils for the first time in our lives. Dar knew about fossils from what we told him before but this time, we were able to enhance his knowledge a bit more since he could see it with his own eyes. This is also why we travel, to expand our knowledge. The information boards were also placed well at child’s level so they could read it themselves easily.
There was also an exhibit on Dinosaur Eggs and we were all interested in that and spend some time reading the information. Other things include some fossilised sea creatures. Check out the pictures below.
Next, we walked into the Aquarium hall just next to the Dinosaur Hall.
Every time we travel, we would look out for aquariums to bring him to. So far, we had been to a few aquariums in different places so I was curious about why these were highly praised in reviews.
Indeed, after a long walk-through, we were impressed as there were efforts made to landscape the tanks with beautiful flora, corals, sea creatures and fishes. They were not only just creatures for show as the entire tank was an ‘art’ in itself. Visually pleasing to look at.
There were also many tanks with different species so it was really amazing they manage to make every tank look so beautiful, clean and clear. We saw some strange creatures that we don’t see in other places, such as the Axolotls, which is a ‘walking fish’, a salamander which look like a fish with legs. Check out the rest of the pictures we took.
GeoSciences – Fossils
We went up to the First Floor next which houses the GeoSciences exhibits. There were some fossils of animals, sea-shells and stones. Quite interesting to look at but we just browse through and proceeded to the next one.
The space hall was more interesting to us because the first Science topic we taught Dar was Space. We had seen the Space exhibits in the Deutsches Museum earlier so this was of a smaller scale but more interesting to children.
It was again a small hall introducing a few space shuttles and information about the astronauts. There was video about meteor crashing to Earth which caught Dar’s attention for a while and a real meteorite on exhibit. He was really fascinated by it and we came back to this place again after our lunch to look at the video again.
Animals of Europe
Stepping into this hall, a huge glass display with tree trunks and some stuffed animals captured our attention. The tree trunks outside had lids that could be lifted up to display the creatures that live inside. It was also here that Vin and I could not help feeling queasy. The information board in green (below pic) showed that there are a lot of tiny microscopic creatures living as parasites on the deers!
Well, we always tell Dar to go near to the animals if we visited a place with animals and if they are gentle, we would even tell him to touch them. Of course, we do tell him to wash his hands after but still, argh, we didn’t know they had so many different types of organisms (harmful to humans) living on them..a bit nauseating. We know now not to tell him to touch any deers or huge animals!
The other parts of the hall exhibited the ‘stuffed animals’ and I was delighted to see a Bison. These stuffed animals helped us to see a large variety of species that we would not be able to see in a zoo. The dioramas presented by the museum were again pieces of art. It showed the animals in their natural settings. I was happily introducing Dar to the various animals as they all had names and information boards on them.
Finally, we walked into an interesting part of the museum. I had read about this place and was excited to see it. We are afraid of these creatures but still can’t resist wanting to look at them.
Something funny happened however. Look at the picture below.
Vin went in and immediately squatted in front of a glass display. Dar was afraid and clutched to his bag behind him. Vin told Dar, “That’s a crocodile. Look at its legs.” (We found out later they are alligators after checking the information board)
As he was still afraid, I told Dar, “These alligators are safely behind the glass so don’t worry. They won’t bite.” Vin gave me a puzzled look and said something like, of course they won’t, they are not real.
I gasped and told him, “These are REAL! This is Reptile World and they housed real reptiles such as iguanas and snakes.” Then, with realisation, he shouted, “Oh! Oh!! I thought they are stuffed displays!!”
I laughed out loud. “No wonder you just stood in front of the display like that!” I also took a moment of hesitation before I went near just now as I’m also quite afraid of reptiles. We just came from the stuffed animals of Europe exhibits and Vin just assumed. He never thought there would be REAL animals in a museum. The alligator was also not moving at all the whole time we were studying it.
Just when we were discussing, the alligator’s eyes opened and blinked and its leg finally moved a little. “See! It moved!!” I shouted. Then, we saw ANOTHER alligator on a platform further away moving towards the water. We didn’t see it just now. It was the first time we saw live alligators so we were a bit apprehensive and soon moved to other exhibits.
The iguanas and snakes were housed in beautiful natural displays too and we enjoyed looking at the set-ups.
I have an affinity for iguanas as I think they are beautiful creatures. The snakes were sleepy though as we only saw their bodies.
Animals From Other Continents & Ice Age Gallery
The third floor housed various stuffed animals from Asia, America, Australia and the Artic. There was also an interesting Ice Age exhibit where we got to show Dar what a Mammoth is. This is why the museum is worth a visit. It showcased all the animals in the world and we could see them all in just one day housed in this place.
Below picture showed how big the Elephant Seal was compared to me. Dar pressed on a button to hear the camel’s voice and we stood next to a creature from the Ice Age with its woolly hair.
It was nice to also see an Orang Utan displayed for the Asia gallery.
As we looked at these displays, we discussed whether they are real animals stuffed or clever man-made replicas. There was no conclusion or information about it anywhere and we could only guess. I found an article later that says, due to animal protection, they are not allowed to hunt animals for research purposes now so stuffed animals in museums were prepared a long time ago.
An article on stuffed animals to share: The Art of Stuffed Animals
The fourth floor was an informative walk-through of the Human Body and Systems. Dar has always been curious about our body and there were plenty of interesting gadgets in this gallery for the child to touch and learn. We had some fun touching the displays. He learnt about five senses, organs in the body, blood vessels, growth of the baby and the digestive system.
This was the most interesting exhibit in this gallery because it required the child to feed this guy food by turning a wheel. As the guy got fed and his stomach got filled, they started the process of digestion, showing how the food got squeezed out of his stomach and passed through his intestines. Finally, there was a flush of water and his stools came out.
I had taught Dar some information about ‘passing motion’ before but this display really add on and helped him visualise the entire process. I took the opportunity to tell him about stomach, small intestines and large intestines. He fed this guy a few more times and enjoyed watching the whole process. This display helped a lot later on when we went back to Singapore as I just had to quote, “Do you remember how you watched…” when we talked about digestion of food.
After exploring all the floors, we finally went to the other section of the Haus De Natur Museum. They actually have a Science Centre on three levels! This Science Centre was also full of hands-on exhibits where the child would have fun trying out lots of gadgets and equipments. It was even fun for us adults.
The first floor was about Energy and Lifting and we got to stand inside a platform connected to a machine. Dar has to control it to lift us through the air high above everybody. It was fun as we swung left and right, high and low. Then, we tested out some exhibits on water and lifted Dar on a platform.
Other exhibits include a Sound exhibit where we could listen to Mozart music in an enclosed room and try out musical instruments. Some fun exercises were done in the Body fitness, mechanics and aerodynamics exhibits.
Overall, we enjoyed our exploration of the place a lot and had an interesting, informative day. We drove back to Burghausen in the evening in an hour’s journey. We were fortunate to be staying for a month plus to be able to have time to come here. If we were just touring Salzburg for a day, we would only be able to quickly browse through the place for a few hours.
We had our lunch in the café on the second level as we intended to full explore the place for the day. It was surprisingly quite good and delicious! I ordered a chicken salad, Dar had his fish and chips while Vin ordered beer and the speciality for the day, Puten (turkey) cutlet and baked potatoes. The portions were fairly large for us.
Visitors to Salzburg could try this café even if they do not pay for entry to the museum. It could be accessed from the outside and entry to the museum is barred unless we scanned the ticket on our hands.
[ Information ]
(source from the Official Website)
Haus der Natur covers eight floors in two buildings, the main building with permanent exhibits and the science centre building with some temporary exhibits. It houses a large exhibition about all aspects of nature, a Science Center, an aquarium and a reptile zoo.
This is the entire Floor Plan of the Museum. It is available as a brochure too at the counter.
Entrance Fee :(For 2013) Adults € 7.50
Children (4-14 years), youths (15-19 years), students until 27 years (identity card) € 5.00. Family Tickets: (2 adults + 1 child) € 18.50
Opening Hours: Daily 9 am-5 pm, December 25 closed.
Other Salzburg Exploration Posts:
Summary Europe Experience: Summing-Up 7 weeks in Europe