The exhibit concept was slightly modified during the renovation of the hall. The emphasis is, however, still on the presentation of preserved bird specimens.

To match the demands of the bygone eras for a universal natural history collection, pieces from the fields of mineralogy, petrology, paleontology as well as botany were reinstated. Even the "pomological cabinet" and "Beringer's Lying Stones" found their way back into the Hall of Birds. Currently, some 2,200 exhibits animate the display cases.

Minerals and rocks

These are presented in display cases in the entrance hall of the gallery. The minerals are arranged systematically according to their chemical composition. 

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antimonit0Among them are rare pieces from now extinct regional deposits. Most of them stem from the former museum collection and were collected about 150 years ago. The rocks are classified according to sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic origint.

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Beringer's Lying Stones

In the entrance hall to the gallery is an impressive collection of the famous Beringer's Lying Stones from Würzburg - one of the most curious cases of fraud in the history of natural sciences.

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luegensteoine 01The central figure was the physician of Würzburg and the physician Johann Bartholomaeus Adam Beringer (?1667-1738). In 1725, three young men from the neighboring town of Eibelstadt presented him with various Muschelkalk, on which strange shapes could be seen. Supposedly they had found these specimens on a mountain slope near Eibelstadt. Beringer rewarded the boys and encouraged them to continue their search. In fact, during the course of the year, they brought him hundreds of other specimens, on which animals, plants, heavenly bodies, and even Hebrew characters could be recognized in bas-relief. The scholar examined the "findings" and published his famous work, the "Lithographiae Wirceburgensis" in 1726. In his opulent book, he scientifically discusses the potential causes for the emergence of such specimens. Shortly after the book was published, the fraud was uncovered. However, to date it has not been definitively clarified who had finally unraveled the fraud and to what extent Beringer himself was embroiled in the affair.
The majority of the exhibited specimens, perhaps all of them, were already procured by Franz Ludwig von Erthal for his cabinet of natural curiosities. For the modern-thinking ruler, they were obviously regarded as a reminder to the future of scientific inquiry.

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Botany

In two entryway cabinets at the front of the gallery, visitors will find a selection of seeds and fruits from different plant species. Prehistoric plants are represented by fossils from the Devonian to the Tertiary.

To the picture gallery

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Pomological Cabinet

This collection, which is as precious as it is rare, is a collection of artfully crafted wax varieties of various types of fruit. The objects were produced between 1795-1813 in the Landes-Industrie-Comptoir of the Weimar businessman, publisher and writer Friedrich Justin Bertuch.

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pom kab 01During this period, the models were put on the market in batches of 8 to 10 new varieties. Altogether there were the following varieties: 104 apples, 104 pears, 35 plums, 38 cherries, 4 apricots, 15 peaches as well as a nut and a common medlar. The models served to disseminate the knowledge of varieties, which was valuable for fruit cultivation at the time. 193 models are available for viewing in the Bamberg collection.

The Bertuch'schen wax fruits are hollow and therefore extremely fragile. Their wall thickness is only about 2 mm. They are casts of genuine fruit, their stems are made of hardened and wax-dipped twine, and the application of glazed paint makes the models look deceptively real. The very fact that they are so fragile is enough to explain their scarcity. In fact, only a few collections have survived to this day.

Of the various varieties only about one-third exist today. Of these, again, only the select specimens are considered to be widespread or even economically significant. The rest are considered to be lost.

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Invertebrates

The entire long northern side of the gallery is reserved for displaying preserved invertebrates. The selection of individual animals is arranged according to modern taxonomy: sponges, cnidarians, bryozoans, flatworms, roundworms, brachiopods, mollusks, annelids, arthropods, echinoderms.

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wirbellose 01Many of the exhibits are historically valuable. Indeed, among the coral specimens are a few which are older than the museum itself. Wherever possible, the individual animal specimen is supplemented by its respective fossil.

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Vertebrate (not including birds)

The exhibits of vertebrate animals begin with fish, which are showcased on the narrow eastern side of the gallery. Typically, these specimens show some wear and tear, bearing the traces of time, but nevertheless perfectly complement the distinct character of our cabinet of natural curiosities. Here one can also find local freshwater fish, as well as manta rays, sharks and other fish groups from all over the world.

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wirbeltiere-01Subsequently, the amphibians and reptiles are found in the cabinets. Many of these exhibits, especially the snakes, consist of specimens preserved in jars and glasses of alcohol, thus underlining the historical character of the hall. Fossilized skeletal elements of marine reptiles and Plateosaurus allow a peek backwards into prehistoric times.

Following a series of display cases with the exotic songbirds, the taxidermy wonders on the bottom floor next present visitors with a view of small mammals from around the world. Imposing on this scene, however, is the burly male lion standing on a display case in the entrance hall to the gallery. Under his huge paws — inside the case — a collection of various mammalian skeletons and skulls have been preserved, including rare specimens like the anteater, manatee, dolphin, koala and many others. Narwal tusks, three of which are on display, were thought to be horns of the legendary unicorn up until the end of the Middle Ages. The largest showpiece in the Hall of Birds Two is, however, is the two lower jaw halves belonging to the Bowhead whale, which rest on the floor. Historical specimens of primates from the Old and New World watch over the visitors from the mineral display case in the previous gallery room.

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Birds

Birds are the crown jewel of the exhibits in this hall. At present, 1,255 specimens from around 800 different species can be seen. They are arranged according to the modern biological classification, beginning with exotic Struthioniformes (running birds) and Galliformes (game birds) to the right of the entrance and ending with exotic songbirds to the left of the entrance.

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voegel 01Other exotic songbirds can be found in select display cases on the gallery level. The following, amongst others, are particular noteworthy: the migratory pigeon (wiped out by human beings), the very rare New Zealand owl parrot, some birds of paradise, as well as the Quetzal (bird of the gods) from the rainforests of Central America. The display cabinets in the center of the room are home to European birds, including almost all species that live among us today.
The much-needed reclassification of the bird artefacts, most of which stem from long-since-past historical periods, was thankfully carried out by Mr. Pascal Eckhoff of the Museum of Natural History in Berlin. The particularly attractive obelisk and pyramid-shaped display cases on the lower floor are home to hummingbirds and to a collection of eggs and nests.

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