Busy, busy, as usual. I might be able to bang out another post next week since it will most likely be a short one, but a three day weekend is coming up and I’m going away, so not sure how everything will work out. For now, let’s continue in the Dominican Republic…
Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
(National Museum of Natural History)
The Museo Nacional de Historia Natural is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm, and on holidays from 9am to 4pm. Admission is 50 RD which is roughly $1-2USD. The museum also has a planetarium, admission is 30 RD. (I didn’t go to the planetarium, so not sure what’s in there. The museum appears to be really lax about tickets; there was no one at the admission desk when we arrived, so we didn’t end up paying until we were about to leave. There’s a security guard by the entrance/exit, so don’t think you can skip out.) The museum is located in the Plaza de la Cultura, which is a ways from the Zona Colonial, where I was staying. A taxi ride from the Zona Colonial to the museum is around 300RD and walking from the Zona Colonial to the Plaza de la Cultura takes about 40 minutes. (As mentioned in the previous post, a good taxi service you can try is JC Taxi, and if you decide to walk, try not to walk by yourself, bring a buddy to be safe.) There a variety of other sites to see at the Plaza de la Cultura, so check them out to make it a day trip.
A word before I go into details, everything in the museum is in Spanish only, and since my Spanish is non-existent, anything that is written after this is based on what I saw on display, my photos and whatever I can scrounge from the web. (So there may be inaccuracies, please forgive me.) The museum contains 5 floors that contains 6 halls and several separate exhibits. The main entrance is located on the second floor, which is where my travel buddy and I started. The first hall I came across is Sala de La Tierra, which has a variety of displays focusing on the planet Earth, such as plate tectonics and land formation. There even appears to a theory on how the island of Hispaniola was formed. The Sala de Rocas y Minerales and Exhibicion de los Fósiles are separate exhibitions that are most likely embedded in the Sala de La Tierra (not positive as there was no obvious signs for these two). Sala del Universo has a variety of images taken of space objects and contains facts about said images. Finishing out the second floor is a separate exhibit, Exhibicion Prof. Eugenio de Jesús Marcano, which is about Eugenio de Jesus Marcano, a Dominican researcher who made significant contributions to the natural sciences, and his work with focuses on geology and paleontology.
The third floor is comprised of one big hall known as the Sala de Ecología Prof. Julio Cicero. The hall contains a variety of dioramas depicting the ecosystems and biodiversity of the island. The dioramas are rather intricate and show the various landscapes of the island. Also on display was a temporary exhibit, Reptiles de la Hispaniola, showing photos of reptiles native to the island. (Currently still on display.)
The fourth floor contains two halls, the Sala de Biogeografía and Sala de las Aves Annabelle Stockton de Dod. In Sala de Biogeografía, visitors can learn about animals, such as bears, penguins, and mooses, that aren’t typically seen in the Dominican Republic, but are natives to the various continents. The Sala de las Aves has displays of birds that are common to the island and the Caribbeans in general. In addition to the above, there are two separate exhibits, Exhibicion de Animales Vivos and Exhibicion de los Insectos. As the names suggest, one exhibit contains live animals, and the other is about insects, respectively. The fifth floor contains one exhibit on telescopes, Exhibicion de Telescopios.
On the first floor is Sala de los Gigantes Marinos Amaury Villalba, which contains two whale skeletons in addition to some displays of marine mammals. The whale skeletons are quite impressive, a must see at the museum. For anyone interested, the exterior of the back of the museum has a dinosaur mural (which I now realize is the only dinosaur display that the museum has).
My travel buddy and I spent a little less than an hour at the museum. Other visitors may take more or less time depending on their interest level. (For a five floor museum with plenty to see, I feel I should’ve taken more time, but the language barrier made in depth viewing not viable for me.) I think the museum needs a little extra something to make it more accessible to foreign visitors, maybe some pamphlets in other languages so visitors have a better idea of what the museum has to offer. Anyone interested in natural history will want to take a visit, and it may be a good family day idea as natural history museums tend to appeal to families with children. The Museo Nacional de Historia Natural is a great place to learn about the natural history of the island of Hispaniola, so go for a visit if you’re in the area.