The oldest museum to be found on the territory of the Republic of Moldova is the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History. The museum is situated in the capital city of the country, in Chisinau and dates from 1889.
The founder of the institution is Baron A. Stuart who had put the basis for a museum of agriculture. Initially, the museum was held in a different building, but it moved to the site where it is still found today in 1905, when the specific edifice was built under the supervision of V Tsigankov (the architect to design the building). Even the name had suffered several alterations throughout time, but the purpose for which it was designed had not changed. The museum is meant to study the natural environment and the culture of the Republic of Moldova.
The museum has gained recognition beyond the borders of the country, being known as an important educational center of Bessarabia.
The collections found within the museum are divided in two categories. On the one hand, there are the collections which comprise elements of flora and fauna, both the ones which form the natural environment at present and the ones which used to exist in the past. Thus visitors can have a look at the way in which the environment had been transformed in time – a process occurring due to the climactic changes as well as to the human intervention: deforestation, inter-species breeding, etc. The evolution of nature is historically tracked since the Achaean era up until the present day.
The other section is dedicated strictly to the culture of Bessarabia. This means that the items encountered here reflect the way of life of the civilizations which had dwelt in this area, including their traditions, habits and attire. In this particular section, visitors will find various types of objects which were used either in household activities or in different works. The items on display will present the exact evolution of the peoples which had lived here in different periods of time. Tourists are particularly interested in the traditional wear and the elements of interior decoration which used to adorn the houses in past times.
The collections encountered here pertain to several domains: paleontology, geology, zoology, archeology, ethnography, and numismatics. Visitors will also indulge themselves with a tour in the botanical garden of the museum which has been created a year after the institution relocated in the new building (in 1906), making it the first botanical garden to exist on this territory.
The National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History is also renowned for the unique pieces it possesses. Among these there is the skeleton of an enormous dinothere, an extinct elephant-like mammal that lived in the Pliocene Epoch, which was discovered in 1966. In order to comprehend the importance and value of the collections found at the museum, you should know that particular items have traveled the world, being exhibited in Europe, America, Asia and Africa as the Moldovan cultural heritage.
The museum is opened for visitations on a daily basis (with the exception of Mondays) from 10:00 until 18:00. As it usually is with institutions, the museum is closed during national holidays. In order to gain access within the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History one must cover a fee (5 Moldovan Lei). Photographing and video-recording the museum is permitted as long as an additional fee is covered.