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Natural History Museum Vienna (NHMW)

Natural History Museum Vienna

AT-TAF comprises of the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien.

The Naturhistorisches Museum Wien opened in 1889, and is now home to scientists who undertake research across earth sciences, life sciences, and humanities. The Museum is one of the largest non-university research centres in Austria.

NHMW is the main institution for biodiversity research in Austria including departments of Zoology, Botany, Geology-Palaeontology, Mineralogy, Anthropology, Prehistory, and an Archive for the History of Science. The collection comprises some 30 million objects including more than 600,000 unique types. Its earliest specimens and items were collected over 250 years ago. The Museum was originally built to house the collection of the imperial Habsburg family.

The collection on public display spans 39 showrooms extended on 8,700 square metres. The Museum houses an extensive collection of world-famous artefacts and items, including the Venus of Willendorf, and the world’s largest and oldest public collection of meteorites on display. It attracts c. 750,000 public visitors a year.


The collections at NHMW are both historically and geographically significant. Historic material dating back to 1690 focuses on the geographic range of the former Austro-Hungarian empire, as well as global material from imperial research missions. NHMW offers material that is otherwise only available in CIS states. Extensive material from outside Austria comes from the Balkan Peninsula (especially Albania, Bulgaria & Greece), Crete, the Iranian area north to the Caucasus, Australia and New Zealand. Material from other geographic areas is globally important for single taxonomic groups, e.g. Brazil, Chile, South Africa, China and the Philippines.

In addition to a workforce of 60 scientists, approximately 200 citizen scientists also support research at NHMW.

Infrastructure services on offer

Scientific visitors to NHMW can access some 30 million objects including 600,000 type specimens across all departments. More than 60 highly specialised researchers are available to support visiting researchers. Available equipment includes a microCT, a scanning electron microscope (SEM), an electron microprobe (EMP), an X-ray powder diffractometer, an X-ray unit, a laboratory of molecular systematics (DNA laboratory), photography studios, 3D-surface scanners, and workstations for data-capture and sharing.

The libraries offer around 6,000 scientific journals and around 200,000 books, more than 50,000 of which are historically valuable. In 2016, researchers and amateurs from 35 countries spent approximately 5,000 visitor days in the research departments and libraries, and expressed appreciation for the highly qualified staff and support for their investigations. Under previous SYNTHESYS projects, NHMW welcomed a total of 397 researchers to the collections for 4,127 user days. Supported areas of research include: physical anthropology, botany (incl. algae, lichens and fungi), geology, mineralogy (incl. petrology and meteorites), palaeontology, prehistory, zoology (incl. vertebrates, invertebrates), archives and libraries.


Dr Karin Wiltschke,

Institution info

Vienna, Austria


Institution info

Contact: Dr Karin Wiltschke, 

Vienna, Austria