Museo di Storia Naturale di Venezia

Museo di Storia Naturale di Venezia information

Venice , Italy
Salizada del Fontego dei Turchi 1730
Santa Croce
+390 41 275 02 06
Getting there
Ferry: San Stae
More information
adult/reduced €8/5.50
Opening hours
10am-6pm Tue-Sun Jun-Oct, 9am-5pm Tue-Fri & 10am-6pm Sat & Sun Nov-May
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Never mind the doge: insatiable curiosity rules Venice, and inside the Museo di Storia Naturale (Museum of Natural History) it runs wild. The adventure begins upstairs with dinosaurs and prehistoric crocodiles, then dashes through evolution to Venice's great age of exploration, when adventurers like Marco Polo fetched peculiar specimens from distant lands.

Outstare the only complete ouransaurus skeleton found to date, a macabre menagerie of colonial trophies, as well as a 19th-century wunderkammer (cabinet of curiosities) housing a pair of two-headed calves. Although the museum's grand finale downstairs is comparatively anti-climatic – a fish tank of Venetian coastal specimens bubbling for attention – it does offer you a close-up glimpse of the enormous dugout canoe moored at the water door.

Alongside the exit staircase you'll notice marble heraldic symbols of kissing doves and knotted-tail dogs, dating from the building's history as a ducal palace and international trading house. The dukes of Ferrara had the run of this 12th-century mansion until they were elbowed aside in 1621 to make room for Venice’s most important trading partner: Turkey.

Known as the Fondaco dei Turchi (Turkish Trading House), the building remained rented out to the Turks until 1858. Afterwards, a disastrous renovation indulged 19th-century architectural fancies, including odd crenellations that made the gracious Gothic building resemble a prison. Luckily, the renovation spared the courtyard and charming back garden, which is open during museum hours and ideal for picnics.