So if you want to brush up on your Tirolean natural history, here’s a quick taster of what you can expect from Innsbruck’s newest museum.
A NEW EXHIBITION FOR THE WEIHERBURG CASTLE
If you’ve ever been to the Alpine Zoo, you might remember seeing a spectacular castle-like building as you enter the car park. This is the Weiherburg castle, which was built way back in 1406. Once the home of wealthy Tirolean silver merchants, it now contains a wonderful restaurant and since March 2021, Innsbruck’s first natural history museum.
“We wanted to create an extra cultural incentive for nature fans visiting the Alpine Zoo,” said Mag. Dr. Peter Assmann, Director of the Tirolean State Museums. And with their new exhibition “Biodiversity in Tirol, Ex and Neo”, they have achieved just that. “Visitors can experience various animal and plant species from a different perspective and also get to know those that are completely new to us in Tirol.”
That means that alongside chamois, bears and other traditional Alpine species, there are also exhibits about animals like the praying mantis and signal crayfish. What? There are praying mantis in Tirol? Indeed, praying mantis were brought over from North America by explorers and traders and have now made Tirol their home. Who knew!
There are also some species that span both categories. Fans of the Alpine Zoo will be familiar with the majestic ibex, a mountain goat with an impressive set of horns. Originally a native animal in Tirol and the rest of the Alps, humans hunted the ibex almost to extinction. However, a ban on poaching and organised reintroduction schemes have boosted ibex numbers to the point where they are no longer endangered. So you could say they are both an original Tirolean species, and also a newcomer to the biodiversity scene.
Of course, these are just examples of some of the things you can learn about in the Weiherburg. The beautifully refurbished castle rooms boast displays about many different animals and plants that make up the biodiversity in Tirol. And it’s a museum for the senses too. You can touch the stuffed animal specimens and get up close to the living creepy crawlies, like the praying mantis.
But don’t put off your trip for too long. “Biodiversity in Tirol” is only open until next March, when it will be replaced by another temporary exhibition. Best get your natural history fix in while you can!