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Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Zoological Museum

The Natural History Museum that time forgot 

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The Zoological Museum, housed within the Babes-Bolyai University, can be rather difficult to locate. Rickety metal spiral staircases, long halls, unmarked doors: it can all be rather confusing. But the persistent will be rewarded when they locate the heavy doors labeled MUZEUL ZOOLOGIC. They may or may not be open. Try knocking.

Once inside, this empty, dusty museum appears as if it has been untouched for a half century. Scruffy, ratty taxidermy fills glass cases, hangs from the ceiling, and peers down from an off-limits second floor. The first room is full of beautiful wood and glass display cases, each one laden with jars holding specimens of fish, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and other species. The display cases are double sided, so that the old specimens can be viewed every from every angle.

In other rooms, large taxidermy tigers, bears, and giraffes stand by the walls, unprotected by display cases. Birds hang upside down, much too many for the bowing branches on which they are mounted. In the very back of the museum, at the time of this writing, two-headed calves were bring stored, visibly, in a roped-off area.

The museum is really a museum of the museum–an unadorned, dusty, and irresistibly enchanting reminder of what natural history museums used to be.

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