But it is perhaps better to enter it from the opposite end.
|Het bruin museum (The brown museum), click to enlarge.|
At the top of the staircase the visitor is greeted by a number of displays in antique wood and glass casings,a pair of passenger pigeons a "rat king" and a dank cupboard with assorted odds and ends.
|Passenger pigeons, once the most populous bird in the world|
his area has much old-timey stuff in it, like those antique cabinets, a few paintings and of course the staircase itself. But it is still very much within the modern museum, and not just because of the anachronistic exit signs and electrical sockets.
|A rat king, rats with their tails in a knot|
In a way this corridor serves as a transition from the modern museum to the old. Once you enter the "brown museum" proper you are in for something of a culture shock.
This isn't a museum, it's a curio cabinet! Where is the predetermined route, the explanatory signs, the thematic sections? At first glance this looks to be little more than a haphazard collection of sometimes questionable taxidermy mounts.
|Sad monkey and creepy cat|
This logic is continued in the lower cabinets as well, although many specimens have clearly been put on top of the cabinets because there was no space.
It is somewhat difficult to tell what this mini-museum represents. Unlike the "Oval Room" in Teyler's Museum, which has been fundamentally unchanged since 1784, it is a reconstruction of an old museum.
And while I have seen it billed as a museum from a century ago (tying into the recent centennial of the Natural History Museum Maastricht) it is doubtful that the museum would have had a radio playing in 1912. The first radio program in the Netherlands was only aired in 1919.
|A radio in a museum of natural history?|
The collection as we see it now seems merely a curiosity cabinet of animals, loosely categorized as flying, swimming and walking. But that may be an artefact of the reconstruction, perhaps in it's glory days the reptiles and mammals did not have to share a cabinet, emphasising the Linnean classification of animals.
I really should try to catch a tour the next time I visit a museum, but that is not always a realistic option. Many natural history museums have very limited (and often volunteer) staff, and understandably only offer (group) tours by appointment.