Natural History Museum / Fondazione Musei Civici, Venice

The Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia manages and promotes a museum system composed of 11 museums. The Natural History Museum, established in 1923 to house the most important scientific collections of that time, now holds more than 2 million finds: zoological, entomological and botanical collections, fossils, as well as ethnographic collections and a library with over 40 thousand volumes.

The museum’s permanent exhibit was completely renovated between 2011 and 2012 with a new captivating set-up, which mediate the complexity of scientific content through a highly scenographic display and a simple communication. The exhibition hosts three sections: the first one, “On the tracks of life”, is dedicated to paleontology; the second one, “Collect to astonish, collect for research”, recounts the evolution of the collections and the birth of scientific museology; the last section, “The strategies of life”, accompanies the visitor through the complexity of living forms. On the ground floor a five-meters aquarium recreates the extraordinary ecosystem of the tegnùe and its rich variety of living forms; suspended from the ceiling is a great skeleton of a fin whale, almost 20 meters long.

The Museum is primarily a scientific research institution. Thanks to its important scientific collections, to a big scientific library and to the expertise of the staff, the Museum carries out and promotes research in the field of biology and ecology of the Lagoon of Venice and of the local environment; the results are reported in scientific publications, both in the Museum Bulletin and in other sector publications.

In support of research and promotion activities, there is a laboratory for biological preparations. The Museum also offers a consultancy service for citizens to identify parasites, dangerous animals or other organisms; moreover, it is open to students interested in doing internships and research.

It also organises conferences, promotional events and especially educational activities, which attract thousands of participants every year.


Temporary exhibitions

The historical collection of Ninni-Marella models

The exhibition presents an exceptional collection of nineteenth-century models of boats and fishing equipment, heritage of the Museum of Natural History of Venice exhibited for the first time after its restoration. The pieces were made by the artisan Angelo Marella of Chioggia on commission from Count Alessandro Pericle Ninni, a Venetian naturalist and scholar of folklore, linguistics and ethnography. The collection tells the various moments of the fishing activity of the inhabitants of the Venice lagoon in historical times, illustrating the techniques, equipment, boats and traditions associated with this very important sector of the Venetian economy.

More information (only ITA): LA PESCA IN LAGUNA | Centro Culturale Candiani a Mestre | MUVE (


The path of the “barene”

A nature walk suitable for everyone which extends for about one kilometer around the walls of the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo. The route explores the unique environment of the Venice Lagoon, the most important wetland in Italy for waterfowl, and is equipped with panels providing information on the salt marshes surrounding the island, which are well-preserved and easily observable. The project is an initiative of Archeoclub and CAVV – CSV of Venice, with the Natural History Museum.





Biodiversity monitoring [RESEARCH ACTIVITY]

The Museum carries out wildlife monitoring within the Venetian territory, with particular attention to the control of the spread of alien species through sampling and collections of specimens in the lagoon and at sea.

The Museum Bulletin also includes a section dedicated to this topic: “Biodiversity of the Lagoon of Venice and of the Venetian northern Adriatic coast. Records”.


The Museum is an important reference point for ornithological censuses, to which sector associations but also individual researchers and enthusiasts, environmental operators and occasional observers relate.

Every year the “Ornithological Report for the Veneto Region” is published in the Museum Bulletin, in which the most interesting data concerning wintering, nesting, migration as well as anomalies or apparently unusual phenomena, are given.

Also, the Museum contributed in producing the books “Birds of the lagoon and of the city” (2013) and “New Atlas of nesting and wintering birds in the province of Venice” (2014).

Atlas of amphibians and reptiles of Veneto – update [RESEARCH ACTIVITY]

In 2007 the Associazione Faunisti Veneti published the “Atlas of amphibians and reptiles of Veneto”, that summarized the knowledge known up to 2005 on the distribution, biology and conservation status of the regional herpetofauna. A tool designed for both the researcher and the nature and wildlife enthusiast, but also of considerable importance for land use planning and management.

These years, a group of researchers coordinated by the Museum and the Department of Biology of the University of Padua keeps on collecting reports and information to increase and update knowledge on the distribution of the Veneto herpetofauna.

Exploring the lagoon [EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY]

Course in English (LS), according to the CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) methodology promoted by the European Commission, to deepen the knowledge of the great variety of environments and organisms characterizing the Venice lagoon. The laboratory provides for the observation of finds, the use of cartography and some small experiments accompanied by listening and conversation activities to facilitate the learning of a specialized vocabulary. Laboratory for the High School.

Lagoon between land and sea [EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY]

The laboratory offers a different and engaging way of getting to know the lagoon ecosystem, focusing on some key issues related to the peculiarities of the territory. The physical environment and animal and plant populations are analyzed through practical experiences, analysis of thematic tables, microscopic observations of sediments, salinity analysis, observation of bioindicators, comparison between native and alien species. Laboratory for Primary School, second cycle, and Lower Secondary School.

The lagoon: a puzzle of environments [EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY]

A great puzzle of the Venice Lagoon allows students to deepen their knowledge of the morphology and the great variety of environments of this territory. With the help of the educational collections, through the observation of finds under the microscope and some small experiments, it’s possible to observe the peculiarities and adaptations of lagoon plants and animals. Laboratory for Primary School, second cycle.