Prague’s was a delightful old hulk of a building, filled with rows and rows of cases and labels that wouldn’t have been all that informative even if you spoke Czech. (It’s being renovated now.) Vienna’s was a similar building, but gorgeously updated.
Just a short train ride from Vienna–you can make it a day trip–is Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The national museum there is a humbler affair, but still totally competent.
First of all, yes, it covers the natural history museum staples. Boxes of rocks. Cases of stuffed parrots. A giraffe on a landing.
It also took its official title, the Slovak National Museum, seriously. The second floor was given over to Slovakia’s natural world. If I’m reading the website correctly, this exhibit had only opened the year before, in 2010.
Gorgeous photos of woods and waterfalls in Slovakia’s national park(s) made me wish I was staying for longer than a day. Slovakia’s own wildlife was presented in loving displays–a fox with two adorable kits, a family of badgers. This wall o’ bats doesn’t make any effort to show them in context, but it’s worthwhile to show how darn pretty they are, too.
A nice older man was there to talk to visitors. He didn’t speak English, but he could more or less get by in German, so the two of us chatted semi-coherently for a while. He tried to tell me something about squirrels, but it took both of us a really long time to come up with the German word for “squirrel” (Eichhörnchen), and even once we’d established that, I’m not sure I ever really figured out the natural history point of the story.
In any case, he was excited to have visitors. And I was excited to be there, sir.
photos: me, except Glyn took that last one