Years of Construction and Period of Standstill
The Bamberg Hall of Birds dates back to the active years of the Prince Bishop Franz Ludwig von Erthal (1730-1795). Franz Ludwig, as a progressive-thinking Regent, was tied to the outgoing Age of Enlightenment.
The prince bishop bestowed upon his Bamberg university the first institute for natural history. To enrich the lectures with visual aids, he acquired several natural history collections. In order to display these acquisitions, he ordered the construction of a cabinet of natural curiosities in 1791, which was to be erected in the northern wing of the former Jesuit college. By removing walls and false ceilings, his court architect, Lorenz Fink, created this spacious, two-storey room encircled by a gallery. Elegant showcases, rich carvings and wall paneling provided the finishing touches. When Franz Ludwig died in 1795, his cabinet of natural curiosities was still unfinished. During the subsequent period of political uncertainty, the construction of the museum came to a standstill. It was not until the year of secularization in 1803 that a turning point came.
1803 – 1838
With the dissolution of the nearby Banz monastery in 1803, the gallery of natural specimens belonging to it was likewise abandoned.
The director of this cabinet of natural curiosities, monk Dionysius Linder (1762-1838), was able to prove to the new state government his private ownership of the collection. Linder donated in turn his entire collection to the then-unfinished Bamberg gallery of natural curiosities under the condition that he be allowed to work as its executive chairman for the remainder of his life. The agreement came to pass, and the ex-Benedictine devoted himself zealously to the new task. He completed the spatial configurations, expanded the collections with determination, and finally nurtured the project into full bloom and eventually Europe-wide recognition. Moreover, he ensured the survival of the museum for many decades to come by making several financial donations from his own fortune.
The natural history collection becomes The Hall of Birds
1838 – 1900
Linder's successor, the priest Andreas Haupt (1813-1893), also worked tirelessly to expand the collection.
Inevitably, the room soon became too small for the wealth of exhibits housed within. For this reason, Haupt obtained the annexation of several adjoining rooms. Under Haupt’s direction and in particular under that of his successor, the collection of preserved bird specimens remained in the main exhibition hall. And it is for this very reason that the room soon became widely referred to as “The Hall of Birds”.
1900 – 2010
In this period of Hall of Birds underwent several phases of remodeling and renovation. In the 1970s, the hall was finally declared a nationally-protected historical monument.
In 1988, the technical and scientific maintenance of the Natural History Museum Bamberg was handed over to the Directorate General of The Bavarian Natural History Collections (Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns, or SNSB).
Due to increasing damages to the color, the hall had to be completely renovated between November 2008 to April 2010. One of the objectives of this measure was to restore the hall to its original appearance during the first half of the 19th century. The wide spectrum of exhibitions was also adjusted to match the expectations of this universal cabinet of natural curiosities.