Who does not remember visiting, as a child, a Natural History Museum?
Before TV shows, tablets and smart phones, the Natural History Museum was the place to discover and learn about all the fauna and flora of the Planet. Entering the Natural History Museum was like crossing a magic portal and traveling to remote and unknown places. A journey in space and time made of dinosaur’s skeletons, strange fish and fossils, bizarre plants and animals of all kind. Visiting the Museum was the way to achieve a knowledge regarding natural history and particularly to feed our imagination about our Planet and its transformation.
In 2015 the University of Porto started renewing the building that host the Natural History Museum of the city. The Museum is not famous like the ones in London, New York or Milan however it has a large and important collection.
The Museum was founded in 1996 and it had its facilities in the historical building of the University of Porto where also the rectory is located. The most important collections are the ones of Portuguese molluscs, insects and birds; in addition it has an important collection of birds and mammals coming from African and South Americans countries. The Natural history Museum has also an archive of around 700 samples of minerals and, resulting from national and foreign findings from different historical periods, pieces of lithic industries as well as pieces related to funeral ceremonies from Portugal and the rest of the World.
In the last years a complex and large renovation of the Museum has been carried on and its estimated reopening will be in 2017 (Museum site).
In order to renovate the space, the exhibition rooms were dismissed and all the animals and objects belonging to the collection were wrapped up to be protected and stored in a new space.
During this transitions phase the equilibrium and the magic of the Museum changed: the animals and the objects gained a new and bizarre life. Displaced from their defined position and out from the staged environment created for the display, they became strange objects, weird creatures inhabiting the space abandoned by the guards of the buildings.
Documenting the restoration of the Natural History Museum it is not only a way to record its transformation, but offers the possibility to present an unusual visual journey populated by new and unexpected objects and creatures, displaying an unconventional journey within the Museum’s collection.