Das Naturhistorische Museum wurde nach dem verheerenden Stiftsbrand im Jahr 1865 vom erst 20-jährigen Admonter Benediktiner Pater Gabriel Strobl in den Jahren 1866 bis 1906 neu errichtet. In seiner wissenschaftlichen Tätigkeit baute Strobl eine riesige Insektensammlung mit rund 252.000 Exemplaren auf. Allein der Bestand an Zweiflüglern (Dipteren) zählt mit mehr als 50.000 Objekten zu den bedeutenden Kollektionen Europas. Durch eigenes Sammeln, durch Tausch, Ankauf und in Form von Schenkungen erwarb Pater Gabriel Strobl in seiner 44jährigen Tätigkeit jene Sammlungs-Bestände, die heute im zum Teil neu konzipierten Naturhistorischen Museum zu bestaunen sind.
Remodeling and redesign
During the conversion work and reorganisation of the museum landscape at Admont Abbey, the rooms of the Natural History Museum were also renovated, being officially reopened on 2 May 2004. When the visitor enters the Natural History Museum, they first encounter the world of reptiles and amphibians; there is a more than 2 m long (stuffed) Mississippi alligator and a wealth of snakes, lizards and tortoises preserved by taxidermy or in alcohol. There is a long ribbon of display cases with information and exhibits relating to the development of the Natural History Museum. The first side room is dedicated to the scientific and artistic achievements of Father Gabriel Strobl. Hanging on the walls are cases containing carefully ordered groups of insects.
The insect collection at Admont is of special significance, particularly the assortment of two-winged insects assembled by Father Gabriel Strobl more than 100 years ago. In fact, research into the specimens in this collection is still on-going. The Abbey maintains contacts with various international institutions and leading specialists in the field who are busy with the analysis of the collection and type identification. Scientific articles and recently published books, including that by Milan Chvála, demonstrate the importance assigned to the collection by the research community.
The wax fruits by Father Constantin Keller
To be seen in an impressive installation in the second side room are all 243 examples of wax fruits modelled by Father Constantin Keller (1778 – 1864). The room itself has a form not unlike that of a fruit thanks to the curved outlines of the display cases. These hold the unique items fashioned by Father Constantin using fruits that he had cultivated himself as models. The wax fruits are of an extremely high quality and in appearance are almost perfect reproductions of the natural examples. Included are varieties of fruits that have since largely disappeared from the range of products.
PASSION OF RESEARCHERS
A cooperation project between the Gesäuse National Park and Admont Abbey can be experienced in the third side room. The permanent exhibition tries to arouse the emotion of the visitors for nature and especially the nearby Gesäuse National Park through the passion of the researchers.
The second gallery corridor
The second gallery corridor contains specimens of creatures from the various natural kingdoms that live in the elements ‘Earth, Air and Water’. European butterflies with dried and pressed examples of cryptogams (plants that reproduce by spores) are on view in historical display cases along the right wall and reflect the harmonious coexistence of plants and animals. The third living environment ‒ ‘Water’ ‒ is represented here by a collection of conch shells and preserved fishes.
The so-called ‘Lion room’ has been left largely in its original state. It bears this name because of the large stuffed East African lion that Father Gabriel Strobl acquired from the famous African explorer Emil Holub. Also in their original cases are other valuable examples of mainly exotic mammals and birds.
The South-eastern Pavilion
The visitor’s ‘stroll through nature’ concludes in the so-called ‘South-eastern Pavilion’ with its magnificent views of the National Park. This was formerly the only room of the Natural History Museum and it contains, in addition to an extensive array of precious, semi-precious stones and minerals, a colourful display of European and local mammals and birds.
It is thanks to the work of Father Gabriel Strobl (1846 – 1925) who, in his first 12 years as curator of the Natural History Museum dedicated himself mainly to the discipline of botany and then, in the following 32 years, immersed himself in the study of insects (entomology) that Admont Abbey has achieved such a reputation for scientific research. Abbeys and monasteries have always been storehouses of knowledge and providers of education. Admont Benedictine Abbey sees it as its task to continue this tradition as far as it is able and to help preserve our environment as that part of creation that has been given into our care.</