Schedelhof – Herentals, Belgium - Atlas Obscura
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Herentals, Belgium

Schedelhof

This impressive collection of skulls and bones was gathered by an ex-zookeeper who took advantage of a pig plague. 

Also known as the “Court of Skulls,” the small Belgian museum known as Schedelhof is actually the private collection of a single zookeeper who began collecting the remains as a hobby after coming into a surplus of plague-ridden pig bones.  

Former zoo worker Ward Geldof did not always collect bones, but once he began, he couldn’t seem to stop. It all began when a mysterious plague swept through the pig population at the zoo he worked at, killing a number of the animals. Given the unenviable, but necessary job of disposing of the carcasses, Geldof too the opportunity to save their skulls for display and his lifelong hobby was underway.

Over the years Geldof continued to collect skulls and whole skeletons not just from his zoo but from purchases and donation from all over the world. Geldof buys recently deceased animals and allows a special variety of beetle (which he also breeds) to swarm over the carcass, making short work of any lingering flesh. Once cleaned, the bones are added to the museum which he built behind his house. Today there are over 700 (double that according to some reports) specimens in his collection ranging from pigs to field mice to walrus’ to a controversial giraffe skeleton.

Reptiles, mammals, birds, and fish of all shape and size are now represented in the Schedelhof. Geldof does not charge for his museum, and is happy to chattily lead visitors through his collection so long as they make an appointment.