Type of Place: Natural History Museum
Location: De Bosquetplein 7; 6211 KJ Maastricht
The Natuurhistorisch Museum of Maastricht is tucked away a short walk from the Vrijhof in one of the oldest parts of the city. The museum focuses heavily on fossils and the long prehistory (and history) of the region. In addition there is a Victorian-style taxidermy section and a small, cute underground mock-up of the marl caves.
Adults pay 4,50 euros on entry (save ,90 euro with a coupon from the VVV). Museum hours are Monday – Friday, 10 AM – 5 PM and Saturday – Sunday, 2 pm-5pm. While the museum is only in Dutch, you can borrow an English language booklet at the from desk that will give you the short version of each exhibit. Without reading things, you can run through the museum in about a hour.
Even if you can’t read the Dutch, there were a few things in particular worth seeing at the Natuurhistorisch Museum.
1) The Mosasaur skull found in the St. Peiters mountain in the 1990s and the a model of the first one found in the 1764. A full skeleton model is on display as well as several teeth and fragments. If you’ve seen the marl caves, this is a nice tie-in.
2) The digital globe you see when you first enter the paleontology exhibit isn’t much to look at but its actually a brilliant teaching tool. A projection of the Earth displays on the surface of a moveable globe. Around it is a circle marked with years and displaying the name of the various time periods. As you turn that ring, the continents drifted fluidly across the surface of the globe based on the time period displayed on the ring. It was one of the best displays of continental drift I’ve ever seen and is a great example of augmented reality.
Final Thoughts: If you read Dutch, this is a solid museum you should visit while you’re in Maastricht. If you don’t, its still a nice diversion, but probably won’t be on the top of your list. The displays were well-suited to families.