Westfalen in October can imply just one factor: rain, rain and extra rain. However nothing is to spoil my temper immediately: I’ve come to Münster, kind of on a whim, for this beautiful pure historical past museum (in addition to the zoo subsequent door). The museum is at the moment present process partial renovations, however regardless of; I’ll come again once more subsequent 12 months to see what they product of it. A planetarium can also be housed within the constructing at an upcharge. It’s value mentioning I’m right here with my buddy, illustrator and Münster native Sara Otterstätter!
These two good-looking Triceratops stand guard earlier than the doorway, giving a glimpse of what is likely to be inside… One speaks solely the reality, the opposite tells solely lies. No phrase on who produced these. They appear monumental and bronze, however I think they’re product of fibreglass.
The museum is housed in an unflashy constructing from the Eighties, however the inside is spacious and fashionable. This good fashionable photo voltaic system enlivens the ceiling. From this central corridor, you might be additionally supplied a glimpse into the below development part of the museum. It already appears intriguing… however that’s for subsequent 12 months.
In its present, under-construction type, the museum homes two everlasting exhibitions: native Westphalian nature previous and current, and, in fact, dinosaurs. As well as, there’s a short lived exhibition on local weather change. The museum additionally has a big, virtually suspect, quantity of stuffed kingfishers, of which that is merely one. This one is immortalized in a diorama together with a fellow kingfisher and another birds, however they’re on show all through the museum. The place did they get all these kingfishers?
This huge parade of animals represents the extinct and extant fauna of Westphalia. A European buffalo (Bubalus murrensis) leads the parade, which incorporates otters, hyenas, musk oxen, wolves, bears, wisent, beavers, rodents, deer, lions, birds, aurochs and the inevitable mammoth, whereas, surprisingly, a flamingo brings up the rear, including a splash of color to all these brown animals. All of it serves as a reminder of simply how little of the European megafauna has remained.
Right here’s a more in-depth take a look at the mammoth, for you mammoth followers on the market.
One factor this museum does very effectively is dioramas. This badger diorama is merely one in every of many. There’s otters, bats and birds of every kind in cozy little scenes like this. Taxidermy is one factor; placing the stuffed animals of their naturalistic context provides a layer of liveliness.
Let’s transfer to the dino corridor. That’s what we’re right here for! There’s a number of bigger areas right here. This one is dominated by three Jurassic dinosaurs: Allosaurus, Stegosaurus and Camarasaurus. They’re all replicas. I don’t know who made them – Aart Walen might be not the one one who could make a dinosaur skeleton. As you’ll be able to see, they’re a little bit outdated. The Allosaurus appears oddly hunched and its shoulder girdles are up means too excessive on its ribcage. But it surely’s all good, they’re massive crowd pleasers that add some spectacle to a museum.
This Stegosaurus is fascinating. What instantly struck me is how brief its neck is, even for a pre-Sophie reconstruction. One other fascinating factor is that factor on the underside of the neck, a chunk of gular armour consisting of tiny osteoderms defending the throat. This can be a little identified function of some dinosaurs however it’s been discovered for Stegosaurus, so it’s nice that this mannequin has it too. The museum signage is upfront about what’s actual and what’s a reconstruction, which I at all times respect. You’d be shocked what number of museums don’t inform you.
Camarasaurus is a museum favorite: not solely is it well-known from a number of specimens, it’s additionally a sufficiently small sauropod to slot in most areas whereas nonetheless being spectacular. Once more, there’s some errors within the smaller particulars. I’m fairly certain its toes are damaged. However once more, it provides spectacle and ambiance. Within the background, little question you’ve acknowledged the print of Mark Hallett’s drop-dead gorgeous sauropod masterpiece, Crossing the Flats (in mirror picture!) This one appears uncredited. Elsewhere within the museum, items of artwork by folks like Stephen Czerkas, John Sibbick and Inga Krause have been credited to their correct artists, making this stick out all of the extra.
Right here’s a show cupboard filled with skulls. This encourages us to do some comparative anatomy. The museum invitations us to match herbivores to carnivores, mammals to reptiles, extant animals to dinosaurs. The dinosaur skulls are fashions, generally clearly so.
That’s particularly apparent with this hadrosaur, which is barely half a cranium. One other companion to that half-tyrannosaur that they used to have on the NHM in London?
Right here’s a cool piece of plesiosaur art work. Very elegant. It’s made by Inga Krause, who’s from the identical artwork college as Sara! Good to see some illustration of native expertise. You don’t at all times need to go to America to search out good palaeoartists.
The museum can also be residence to numerous life sized dinosaur fashions, principally of coelurosaurs. Many of those fashions are made by the late Stephen Czerkas and his spouse Sylvia. This one stems from 2014, a mere 12 months earlier than his premature loss of life. Czerkas deserves credit score for being one of many first 3D mannequin dinosaur sculptors to noticeably incorporate feathers into his maniraptorans. That makes his work stand out in opposition to your customary Wolter Design fare. By immediately’s requirements nonetheless, this one appears a bit shaggy and scruffy.
Subsequent to the 2014 Deinonychus is that this one from 1997, additionally by Czerkas, illustrating simply how a lot our understanding of those animals has developed since then. Apparently, they’re in the exact same pose; Czerkas should have deliberately revisited his Deinonychus to realize simply this impact.
I don’t know if this Velociraptor can also be a Czerkas. In comparison with the Deinonychus, it appears to signify an additional stage in understanding how feathered dinosaurs work.
That’s particularly obvious when in comparison with this Epidexipteryx, reconstructed earlier than anybody knew what the deal was with scansoriopterygids. To those that don’t know, these had been gliding animals with a wing-like membrane on their arms, a extremely surprising adaptation that solely got here to mild with the invention of Yi qi. This mannequin was doubtlessly constructed earlier than anybody was to learn about this. The result’s an underfeathered animal with very lengthy arms that appears curiously monkey-like. Our consideration is supposed to be drawn principally to the tailfeathers, essentially the most notable facet of Epidexipteryx on the time.
Finishing the set of notable feathered and fuzzy dinosaurs, right here’s Sinosauropteryx. I used to be mildly shocked that we’re not wanting on the well-known German dinosaur Compsognathus, however this one was discovered with feathers and due to this fact will get the eye on this exhibit highlighting dinosaur feathers. Not that Compsognathus wouldn’t be equally fuzzy.
That is one in every of Czerkas’ most well-known items, a near-life-sized Allosaurus. Superior. I really like how a lot he emphasised the neck, which was very highly effective in allosaurs. Though it does look monstrous and intimidating, particularly with these massive claws raised like that, nice particulars such because the wrinkling on the pores and skin, the very reptilian bumps and spines and the birdlike eyes and ft make this really feel like a plausible creature. By the way, I really like how all dinosaur fashions right here have spherical pupils.
With all these mannequin animals and skeletons round, you is likely to be forgiven for questioning the place all of the precise fossils are. Right here is likely one of the foremost points of interest: the holotype of Wiehenvenator, also called Das Monster von Minden! Although I suppose it’s the Monster von Münster now. It’s a Center Jurassic megalosaur, the most important predatory dinosaur from this a part of Germany. We knew that it was identified from cranium fragments, however there’s additionally quite a few vertebrae.
Gotta have a T. rex! Once more, it’s not the very best duplicate skeleton I’ve ever seen, however it does its job effectively, and it satisfyingly towers over you as you stroll previous. I imagine the cranium duplicate by its ft relies on the AMNH cranium, whereas the cranium on the mounted skeleton appears little prefer it. Subsequent to Rexy, the whales are pulling rank on the dinosaurs: the sperm whale skeleton is far greater than the T. rex. The whale had beached on northern German shores, a uncommon prevalence in Germany.
Rexy even has a little bit nice pheasant phriend! You possibly can see that, as with the Allosaurus, the T. rex‘s shoulder girdles are means too excessive up. They’re alleged to virtually contact on the backside. That’s the way you get all these reconstructions with humanoid arms and shoulders, a pet peeve of mine.
Behind the sperm whale, there’s a wall devoted to whale evolution, displaying 4 more and more aquatic prehistoric whale skeletons. That is essentially the most well-known one: Ambulocetus, the Whale that Walks. I by no means knew it had such a bizarre, intense cranium! What an exceptional monster. Fashionable cetaceans are identified, deservedly or in any other case, as pleasant creatures, however its ancestors look something however.
Extra dinosaurs. This sculpted Parasaurolophus appears a bit funky. No much less lovingly detailed than Czerkas’ work, however much less sensible and extra stylized, with all these spiky and rugose ridges and that eye that just about evokes Egyptian hieroglyphics. I’m okay with that, although it does stick out a bit on this museum.
This wall reveals options of birds. One other kingfisher reveals up. This Anchiornis mannequin appears to take its cues from the hoatzin, essentially the most prehistoric-looking (although not essentially essentially the most primitive) of all birds. Good one. I don’t know if that is by Czerkas or another person.
After wanting on the dinosaur exhibition, Sara and I sped by the local weather exhibition. Neither of us felt up for a dose of local weather nervousness, and we figured it was preaching to the choir anyway. On that facet of the museum, there have been quite a few cool fossils together with ammonites and a marine crocodile, and there was one other wall of taxidermy together with, in fact, one other kingfisher.
If the museum was in any means disappointing, it was in the truth that its reward store solely offered Papo dinosaur toys. Oh effectively. I’ve been to sufficient retailers that promote solely Sleich, so I suppose it could possibly be worse. Extra museums must study from the Vienna NHM, that’s for certain.
Due to Sara for displaying me round in her residence city! Sara took this picture of me with the large ammonite Parapuzosia and her personal dinosaur mascot. Regardless of the Westphalian rain, we had a good time. For a bonus, we went to the zoo subsequent door that additionally housed the horse museum, which had some fascinating items regarding fossils and speculative zoology, however that will likely be an article for one more day. The Münster museum of pure historical past will get a thumbs up from me, and I can’t watch for the development works to complete so I can return.