Winterthur Natural History Museum

The Winterthur Naturmuseum is a little natural history museum with lots of interactive exhibits. Although it’s smaller than the Zurich Zoological Museum, we enjoyed this slightly more as it has more than just animals and more interactive elements for kids. Unlike most kid-friendly museums, it’s very affordable as kids are free and adults only 5 CHF. It’s a great rainy day option.

Winterthur Naturmuseum
www.natur.winterthur.ch
Tu – So 10.00 – 17.00, closed Mondays
Adults 5 CHF, children under 16 free

Overview

The Winterthur Naturmuseum is two floors of animal and geological exhibits, focused on Swiss natural history, with lots of interactive educational elements. It’s small but plenty to occupy a couple hours. As you might expect, there are a lot of stuffed animals, showing a variety of animals found in Switzerland (as shown below). Their collection is not as large as the Zurich Zoological Museum, but I think it’s still very nice.  Lots more pics at the end of this post.

In addition, there is…

Kerala Museum. One room of the Naturmuseum is a play room, called “Kerala Kindermuseum,” designed for kids 3 to 8 years old. There are tables with crafting and art supplies, a badger den play area for small kids (shown below), some toys, etc. They sometimes have story telling and more formal staff-led workshops. We were there on a quiet weekday during the spring school holiday and nothing was going on. I was a little confused and disappointed. The schedule on their website is rather vague but I suspect there is more happening on Wed afternoons and weekends. More info here.

Fossil Hunt. They offer tablet game for kids 8 to 12 called Fossiljäger, aka “Fossil Hunt” (I think it was in German only, not positive). It leads you around the museum with palentogist Harry Hammer, who asks you tricky questions at various stations. You have to study the exhibits to figure out the answers. The tablet is available for free at the front desk. They didn’t offer it when I bought my entrance ticket. When I saw another kids using it in the museum, I went back up and asked for it. They were quite happy to show it to me. The game was interesting but we found the technology a little slow and unresponsive and my kids got bored waiting. Hopefully, they’ll improve on that. I like the idea and want to try it again next time.


Photos from Winterthur Naturmuseum website.

Getting There

The museum is located in the center of Wintherthur within walking distance of the main Winterthur train station. It is the same building as the Kunstmuseum. There is a metered parking garage adjacent to the museum.

Here’s what the museum looks like from the outside. Inside, follow signs to the Naturmuseum, which has a separate entrance than the Kunstmuseum. There are free lockers downstairs near the WC. You can’t take big bags in with you. No food inside but you can easily picnic outside. Strollers are fine inside.


Photo by JoachimKohlerBremen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Details

Now for a few pics of the museum to give you an idea of what you might see. They were building a new exhibit while we were there in Sept 2015, so I suspect they occasionally rotate exhibits. You can see below pics of what we saw.

My son loved this bird exhibit that showed what time in the morning you might hear different birds and then played their songs.

My kids were disgusted but I was fascinated by the small rodent bone collection, found in the stomachs of birds. There are several drawers full of these in various states. I love how all the tiny bones were organized.

This little piano play different birds calls.

Downstairs you’ll find some fossils.

On the left, you can smell a variety of spices and herbs and guess what they are. I was shocked how bad we were at this game. On the right, various apple varieties that grow in Switzerland. How do they keep them from decaying??? I’m a little disturbed by this one.

Our very favorite part was the extensive collection of crystals and special mineral rocks.

So pretty, so many different colors and forms.

At this computer, you can see where various rock types are found on a map of Switzerland and learn about them. I loved seeing our country from a geological perspective.

I loved this beautiful collection of mushrooms, so delicate.

Don’t forget to Pin this for later…

Fun natural history museum with lots of interactive exhibits for kids. Great rainy day option for families in the Zurich Switzerland area.

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