Natural History Museum in the town of Chernivtsi is one of the most amusing places which contain historical and scientific items. However, it is one of the most infamous museums in the town. It is hidden in a block of flats. However, the museum has rare, unique and exotic exhibits of flora, fauna, and geology.
The Chernivtsi Natural History Museum was founded a year after the University, in 1876. It is divided into zoological and geology & paleontology rooms. The research collection is estimated at more than 20 thousand different exhibits. From stones, we see every day in the streets, to rare and exotic animals and plants.
The museum started to work in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, more exhibits appeared in Romanian and Soviet times: unique kinds of plants, animals, and minerals were added. Now, when the museum belongs to an independent Ukraine, it’s not about enlarging the collection. Museum workers say that want at least to keep the existing exhibits.
Among thousands of original wildlife exhibits, a skeleton of a blue whale catches attention the most. The skeleton of the biggest animal in the world. Except for Chernivtsi, only such Ukrainian cities as Odesa and Kherson have the same skeletons.
The museum got the skeleton during the Soviet Union times when the country had a whale fishery. Iryna Tkebuchova, a museum director, says that a whaling fleet Slava (Glory) which was based in Odesa killed this whale in 1951 near the Antarctic. It was 27 meters long and weighted 100 tones.
“It is no the biggest blue whale but anyway, his size is astonishing. He is as big as a herd of elephants,” Iryna says.
The skeleton still has tendons and some bone fat on it. It used to be a very valuable product around the world.
Geology & Palaeontology room has thousands of various small stones, minerals, species, and metals. All you can find under and on the ground is exhibited on wooden shelves of the museum. The Zoological room offers exhibits of bugs, fish, reptiles, and animals. Except for the blue whale, you can see here stuffed Nile crocodiles, brown bear, a skeleton of a kangaroo etc.
Each month, museum workers clean all the stuffed animals and rooms. Naturally, rooms and tools aren’t in a good condition, while the number of workers is insufficient. The museum needs more spacious rooms, better and more advanced equipment, and more workers. However, the reality is that the museum has only a few workers who do their best and sometimes even give their own money to keep the collection properly, the collection which was created by prominent biologists of the past.
By the way, in 2004, the Cabinet of Ministers included the Natural History Museum’s collections into the list of national significant objects.
Today, the Natural History Museum is visited mostly by students. They have tutorials and lectures here. Students sit surrounded by the blue whale’s ribs and study a unique world of nature. Nevertheless, the Museum is happy to invite Chernivtsi residents and tourists.
Text and photo by Maksym Kozmenko