The ´Flower´ House
Very soon after the founding of the Natural History Society in 1801 its members started collecting fine specimens. At the beginning these objects were kept in members' homes. Mainly for financial reasons, it was not until 1881 that a separate museum could be considered. The first museum was opened in The 'Flower House' in 1884-85. The exhibition area consisted of two rooms of 50 and 34 square metres in size. The public was admitted only on Sundays between 10 a.m. and noon. Although further parts of the building were subsequently turned into exhibition rooms, the shortage of space soon became apparent. In 1904 some rooms had to be closed to the public so that collected items could be stored. The remaining rooms were overfilled with anthropology, ethnography, zoology and botany, paleontology, mineralogy and geology collections. For a period there was even a department of physics and technology.
Old ´Luitpold Haus´
Relief came in the form of an endowment made in 1903 by the business and finance magnate Berolzheimer and his sons and provided funds for the building of the Luitpold House. On July 13, 1913 it was opened to the public. The exhibitions were in anthropology, the ethnology of New Guinea and Costa Rica, and zoological items presented in two rooms. There was not enough money to set up a hall for geology. The museum was open for two hours per week and admission was free of charge. Although a serious economic crisis accompanied the First World War, the collections remained intact. But the Second World War and its aftermath caused severe losses and damage. The heavy bombing on January 2, 1945 left the Luitpold building in ruins. Although the greater part of the collections had been removed to safety, many objects, mainly those from the geology department, were destroyed. The giraffe, too, was a casualty of the war.
New ´Luitpold Haus´
After a preliminary roof had been constructed in 1950, a small collection could be opened showing objects of local natural history, but it had to be closed a year later because some rooms were flooded. It wasn't until 1954 that the reconstruction work had reached a point at which the exhibit could be opened again. As funding was scarce and had to be used to buy new display cases, there was no money left to employ additional personnel. So for many years members of the society worked long unpaid hours in addition to their regular jobs. Thanks to their work, the new prehistory collection was opened on May 22, 1960. Then new ideas in museum didactics emerged, and in 1976 a completely new geology department was opened. In 1995 new departments on Petra and the New Stone Age were added. The shortage of exhibition space was an ongoing problem. Starting in 1973 the Society began longterm negotiations with the Nuremberg city administration, and various possibilities were considered.
In 1995 it was decided that the museum should have a new home, and it moved in 2000. Once again it took time to establish the different departments, and step by step they were opened to the public. The latest exhibits are those on Costa Rica and the Iron Age, opened in 2008 and 2009. The department of geology is busy with reorganization in order to keep pace with current research. The work in all the departments is done today as it was fifty years ago, by unpaid volunteers who are members of the Natural History Society, experts and enthusiastic amateurs alike.