Established in 1964, as the first Natural History Museum in Greece, the Goulandris Museum (Goulandris Natural History Museum) is considered one of the best of its kind and stands both as a public museum and a scientific and educational centre. Its first exhibition, when it opened its gates, was designed by the British Museum of Natural History and hosted plantology exhibits. Ever since then, the Museum, which is a private, nonprofit institution, is constantly expanding its operations, changing its aesthetics and evolving its concept, just as Nature does. Today it hosts exhibitions on Botany, Zoology, Entomology, Marine Biology, Ornithology, Herpetology, Geology and Paleontology.
The botanical exhibition begin with an introduction to plant biology and of the basics of every living organism: growth, reproduction, and heredity. Among the museums’ mammals collection one can find rare Australian species, typical African savanna animals, Asian endangered species, native North American Bears but also common European cats! Visitors of the entomology exhibition can take a look at the many different species of insects from Greece and other countries, representatives of the most important entomological groups.
Did you know that shells represent the second biggest animal group on earth after insects? One can find more at the extensive collection of shells from the Greek seas, as well as from all over the world, in a great variety of colours and shapes that can be seen in the museum.
The GNHM has a rich collection of birds, with 180 species that nest in Greece, being presented in a 22 meter display showing their natural biotopes. The Museum presents turtles, frogs, toads, salamanders and newts, as well as its ancestor, Dinosaurs, by a real-size replica of a Triceratops. The rock collection consists primarily of Greek minerals and it starts with the cycle of rock, a representation of rock creation and transformation. The palaeontology exhibition tries to shed some light on the history of life. How volcanoes and mountains were created and shows the earth’s eras of climate. Furthermore the museum hosts a rich collection of fossils in chronological order as a representation of the evolution of life on earth.
It took long time, much effort and many people to make all these exhibits coherent and easy to follow, in order for the museum to fulfill its mission. Although many have linked a visit to a Natural History Museum with middle school, a revisit when becoming an adult helps everyone understand the complexities of life.