Naturalis is since the completion of the new building in 1998, the name for the Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum (National Museum of Natural History ) ( NNM ) in Leiden. It is a natural history museum, are practiced in the various forms of nature education.

Naturalis has coordinated an online overview of the Dutch biodiversity among others.


The precursor of Naturalis were the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke History ( National Museum of Natural History ) and the Rijksmuseum voor en Geology Mineralogy ( National Museum of Geology and Mineralogy ). The Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke history was built in 1820 Royal Decree. Here existing collections were assembled. At this museum, the public had only a very limited access, in some times even not at all.

New museum

In 1986 it was decided that the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke history should be a public museum. For this purpose, an extensive new building was necessary. The cost for the museum project - about 60 million euros - were the highest for a museum since the building of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

The new museum was built on a former pest-house from the 17th century, which served since 1954 as accommodation for the Leger Museum ( an army museum ) and in 1984 moved to Delft. The pest-house, which forms the entrance hall and where the cash register, a cloakroom, a museum shop and a cafe is located, is connected via a 80 meter long footbridge to the new building where the collection departments and the library are housed. The museum also has an enormous educational program. The museum is located in the Darwinweg 2 in Leiden. It has Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10:00 AM bis 17:00 clock opened. Sundays, public holidays and school holidays it is open from 10:00 to 18:00 clock. Monday, December 25 and on January 1, it is closed. The library, which has a very large collection of books and illustrated Biology and Geology magazines is freely accessible from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 17:00 clock.

Cash register Naturalis ( Pesthuis )

Naturalis ( Museum and Collection )

Naturalis (right bridge with zebra motif)


The current museum collection is known for its numerous objects in the individual departments. It consists of approximately 10 million zoological and geological collectibles, including

  • 5,250,000 insects
  • 2,290,000 other invertebrates
  • 1,000,000 vertebrates
  • 1,160,000 fossils, including a large dinosaur skeleton
  • 440,000 rocks and minerals
  • 2,000 gems
  • 10,000 objects in the collection pedagogical

The collections are housed in a 62 meter high tower into 40 rooms


In addition to its temporary exhibitions, the museum has several permanent exhibitions:

  • Nature Theatre (animals, plants, fungi, unicellular organisms, bacteria, rocks and minerals, an impression of nature in all its various forms ).
  • Primeval Parade ( Based on fossils, the geology and the evolution of life shown)
  • Life (in this case shows how plants and animals live and survive on Earth ).
  • Within the Earth ( for children and their parents, to exemplary manner, children learn how nature works ).
  • Biotechnology ( games and movies show the visitor how authoritative the DNA in all life processes is ).
  • Treasury ( special security guards and vaults protect the precious gems, including a collection that once belonged to the Dutch King William I and the stuffed specimens of species that were extinct in the last centuries ).