Tay Nguyen Biological Museum
This former monastery in Vietnam now houses a chocolate shop and museum filled with centuries-old taxidermy specimens.
This museum is only advertised on a small billboard on a highway that leads to a much more famous tourist destination in Da Lat, Lang Biang Mountain.
Down a dirt road and past the Institute of Scientific Research, one will eventually come across a small building where you can purchase tickets to enter Da Lat’s very own Biological Museum (Bảo tàng Sinh học Đà Lạt). The museum consists of 2,500 square meters of exhibition space in a three-story building.
The stone building is mostly empty save a small cafe, chocolate shop, and the museum, which is on the second floor past a lot of locked doors and piles of furniture in the dark halls.
The rooms on the second floor are filled with collections that make some sense at first. Fungi, insects, and birds fill the first few rooms. The specimens have labels on them with their Vietnamese name, the donor and the year. Some of them date as far back as the the early 18th century. Some of these show their age, bulging in some places and wires exposed in others. As you move into the other rooms, things start to seem strange. Satellites, an elephant, rabbits, a house cat, a sea turtle, and a two-headed pig in formaldehyde are in the main exhibit room.
The final rooms hold hundreds of skeletons and other creatures from a diverse range of habitats. The tigers have velvet tongues, but one is missing its lower jaw. It’s unclear which specimens came from Vietnam as there is almost no information in the museum except to identify the name of the animal.
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