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Museum für Naturkunde - Leibniz Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity (MfN)
Hosting Legal Entity
Leibniz Association
Invalidenstrasse 43, Berlin, PO: 10115 (Germany)
Type Of RI
Coordinating Country
Current Status:
Scientific Description
The Museum für Naturkunde – Leibniz Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity (MfN) is a museum of natural history in Berlin and a member of the Leibniz Association (Germany). It is one of the eight research museums of the Leibniz Association. Its Mission Statement is: ”Discovering and describing life and earth – with people, through dialog.”The museum is an internationally renowned centre and partner for research. Its research activities are focused on the following scientific topics: 1) Discovery of Biodiversity; 2) Evolution; 3) Diversity Dynamics; 4) Impacts, Meteorites, and Geological Processes; 5) Collection Development; 6) Science Communication and History of Science. The Museum für Naturkunde was founded in 1810 as part of the Humboldt University Berlin but left the university in 2009 to become an independent trust under public law. The museum’s collections comprise more than 30 million items relating to zoology, palaeontology, geology and mineralogy. The museum is member of several international and national networks including the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF), the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Diversitas, Scientific Collections International (SciColl) and Deutsche Naturwissenschaftliche Forschungssammlungen (DNFS).Furthermore, the museum is an internationally renowned visitor attraction with consistently high visitor numbers of ca. 500,000 per year.

RI Keywords
Meteorite, Mineralogy, Collections, Natural history, Biodiversity, Science, Museum, History, Communications, Evolution, Geology, Exhibition, Palaeontology, Zoology
RI Category
Natural History Collections
Scientific Domain
Earth and Environmental Sciences
ESFRI Domain

The library of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin is one of the most important reference libraries in zoology in the German-speaking world. Its contents go back to the 15th century. Other important parts of the library focus on palaeontology, mineralogy and geology. The library contains 369,000 items (including maps and separate) and currently subscribes 834 printed journals and 4,124 online journals(Survey 2011). It is a reference library open primarily to museum staff, but also to interested specialists. External visitors are asked to register before arrival. A color book scanner is available for saving files on usb stick.

Scientific Collection

The Museum für Naturkunde houses over 30 million collection items. The zoological collection comprise over 10 million invertebrates (not including insects), over 15 million insects, including 6 million beetles and 4 million butterflies and moths, approximately 580,000 vertebrates. The Museum has an animal sound archive containing approximately 120,000 animal sound recordings. The palaeontological collections comprise: 1.2 million fossil vertebrates, 1.1 million fossil invertebrates, 320,000 palaeobotanical collection pieces The mineralogical- petrological collections contain 312,000 samples, of which: 250,000 mineral specimens, 57,000 petrographic-geographic samples, 4.900 meteorite fragments of 2,300 different meteorites (most comprehensive collection in Germany).

Animal Sound Archive

The Animal Sound Archive at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin is one of the oldest and largest collections of animal sounds. Presently, the collection consists of about 120,000 bioacoustical recordings comprising almost all groups of animals: 1.800 bird species; 580 mammalian species; more then 150 species of invertebrates; some fishes, amphibians and reptiles.

Historical Archive

The collections comprise approximately 110,000 items, including documents as well as images. Documents: Approximately 90,000 files – mainly collections of letters from/to explorers, academic colleagues, research institutions, collectors, owners of menageries and missionaries, as well as travelogues, journals, collection inventories, catalogues, manuscripts, maps, and administrative paperwork. Images: Approximately 20,000 images. The most extraordinary items include a collection of naturalists‘ portraits; a collection of mammal images compiled from a taxonomist’s perspective; water colors and drawings by explorers, and over a thousand photographic plates from the German Valdivia Deep Sea Expedition. The collection is becoming increasingly important for biodiversity research, taxonomy (type databases), biogeography and research into the historic development of natural sciences.

Geoscientific microanalytical Facilities

Geoscientific microanalytical facilities (0.9 FTE) offer a range of techniquesfor the chemical and structural analysis of inorganic phases at the micro-scale(100 nm to μm range). The facilities host a electron microprobe JEOL JXA 8500F,and a Raman spectrometer DILOR LabRam, but include also the energy-dispersiveanalytical facilities available at the scanning electron microscopes. The field-emissioncathode also comprises a X-ray diffraction laboratory with a STOE & CIE STADIP instrument for mineral identification in small samples such as rare collectionspecimens.

Isotope and Geochemical Laboratories

The MfN isotope and geochemical laboratories comprise two mass spectrometers and two cavity ring down spectroscopes for the analysis of stable isotopes (carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen), at various scales, on rocks, inorganicand organic phases (both solids and liquids), an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer Bruker AXS S8 Tiger for the basic chemical characterization of rocks and inorganic phases at the macro-scale, and the necessary preparation laboratories.

DNA Laboratory

The MfN DNA Laboratory is a central service facility with state-of-the-art equipment for the generation of sequences and population genetic data.

Central Imaging Laboratories

The MfN central imaging laboratories are equipped with a wide range of microscopic equipment, from simple dissecting scopes to high-end light microscopes(e.g., Leica TCS-SPE confocal laser scanning microscope, Zeiss Axioscopewith PlasDIC, a cathodoluminescence microscope HC3-LM), that jointly providea top standard pool of instruments.

Micro-computed tomography (μCT) Laboratory

The MfN micro-computed tomography (μCT) laboratory allows the non-invasive examination of biological samples (primarily from zoological collections), fossils and rocks by X-ray computed tomography (CT) at scales from >10 cm to 1 mm, usinga Phoenix GE Nanotom micro-CT instrument.

Electron Microscopy Facilities

The MfN electron microscopy facilities provide access to modern scanning (ZEISS EVO LS 10, JEOL JSM-6610LV, JEOL JSM-6300) and transmission(LEO 906) electron microscopes, which are complemented by sample preparation laboratories equipped with standard instrumentation.

CETAF - Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities
International Council of Museums (ICOM)
Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
SYNTHESYS - Information Network of European Natural History Collections
DIVERSITAS - an international programme of biodiversity science
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
SciColl - Scientific Collections International
Date of last update: 22/03/2017
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