Museum of Natural History ( Museu de História
Natural ) is conveniently located in the government
run botanical gardens ( Jardim Botânico
) in the area known as "Bom Sucesso"
on the western hillside of the Funchal amphitheatre.
beautiful garden in front of the natural History
Museum . Picture Courtesy of MadMulti - from
their CD Madeira Photos. Available for
museum was opened in 1982 in one of several
buildings that form part of the odd 35 000 m2 of the
botanical garden (a tapestry of colourful plants showing
one of the parts of the garden is shown alongside).
The museum is indeed the culmination and legacy of
Ernesto João Smith - a priest and esteemed
ornithologist. The Jesuit priest, with the
help of fellow brethren and others, managed the enormous
task of collating, discriminating, organising and
then classifying many different species of Fauna
and Flora of the Madeiran Archipelago, including
many specimens from the ocean floor and coastal areas.
huge collection of specimens include many rare species
that may be facing extinction in the near future.
The museum includes many other examples of fauna
that are endemic to Madeira and Porto Santo: many
insects are on display, molluscs from
both land and water, fish and other crustaceans
or shell fish from off shore, and many examples
of sea flora including algae and mosses. The
Museum of Natural History is unique in that many of
the specimens held under its auspices are not found
or recorded anywhere else in the world. For archaeological
enthusiasts there is an example of a petrified
tree stump showing elements of the prehistory
of the island and its volcanic origins.
is one of the most pleasant museums to visit. Especially
since it is situated in the large and expansive botanical
gardens (which house thousands of examples of live
flora from many parts of Macaronesia - the
Azores, Madeira, Canary and Cape Verde archipelagos).
But it might be quite unpleasant for those persons
who have the dreaded phobia of encountering many "creepy-crawlies"...