Oceanographic Museum of Monaco
Opened to the public in 1910, the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is one the oldest and most visited Marine Science museums in Europe.
The museum was founded by the Prince Albert I as “a Palace entirely dedicated to Art and Science” and accommodated in a new munumental building overlooking the Mediterranean sea, designed by French architect Paul Delefortrie. Until 1988, the museum was directed by world-renowned scientist and explorer Jacques Cousteau.
On a floor area of over 6,000 square meters / 65,000 square feet, the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is composed of two main sections: an array of aquariums and a large permanent exhibition of Natural History.
Inaugurated in 1903, before the official opening of the museum, the aquarium of Monaco comprises now about 100 pools containing thousands of live marine creatures, from both the Mediterranean and tropical seas, including sharks, jellyfish, giant crustaceans, corals, seahorses, Posidonia beds, venomous tropical fish, sea turtles, and much more.
The aquariums are particularly aimed to kids, with educational classes and special activities; for example, children have the possibility to touch fifteen different species of creatures in a special pool.
The museum also maintains a “nursery” where marine creatures for the aquariums reproduce and are grown.
Natural History galleries
The permanent exhibition of Natural History and marine sciences of the museum presents specimens, skeletons, real-size reproductions of animals, photographs, ship models, and documents, many of which were collected by the museum’s founder, the Prince Albert I who was an explorer and navigator, throughout twenty-eight exploration campaigns he conducted between 1885 and 1915.
The museum exhibition includes an installation by artist Mark Dion, entitled Oceanomania, a 10-meter high “cabinet of curiosities” with unconventional, rare, or mysterious objects from the museum’s collections, such as stuffed animals, shells, old scientific instruments, fossils, and old books.
The museum organizes temporary exhibitions, educational activities, guided tours, and special events, and regularly commissions site-specific artworks to renowned contemporary artists, such as Damien Hirst and Marc Quinn.
The building of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco also accommodates a panoramic restaurant and a shop.
Photos: cover by Philip Haslett; 1 by Nat Lockwood; 2 by Alexandre Delbos; 3, and 8 courtesy of Musée océanographique de Monaco; 4 by Cyril Bèle; 5 by Andreza Keiko Mori; 6 by Kevin’s Photo Lab; 7 by Vladimir Varfolomeev
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