Museu da Ciência de Coimbra
Museum in Coimbra
The Coimbra Science Museum, located in Coimbra, Portugal, showcases the historic collections of various faculties of the University of Coimbra. These collections were consolidated into the present building in 2006. The museum’s extensive collection includes scientific and astronomical instruments from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as displays related to anthropology, botany, mineralogy, medicine, and zoology. The museum owes its existence to the 18th-century reforms of science education at the University of Coimbra, implemented by the Marquis de Pombal.
The Coimbra Science Museum is considered one of the most significant museums of its kind in Europe, and its collection is centered around the theme of “light and matter.” Visitors can learn about the properties of light, the emission and absorption of light by matter, the sun and sunlight, vision, and the color of objects. The museum provides interactive recreations of experiments from the late 18th century, emphasizing the importance of experimental research. The museum also displays historical scientific apparatus from that period and features the groundbreaking work of significant European scientists such as Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Antoine Lavoisier, William Herschel, and Charles Darwin.
The Coimbra Science Museum has many exhibits, including a significant anthropology and ethnology collection that includes 500 complete skeletons and 2,000 skulls from Portugal’s former overseas colonies. The astronomy collection includes observational instruments, drawings, maps, celestial charts, and historical books. The botanical section includes over 3,000 specimens of preserved fruits and seeds, as well as plant products such as bark, gums, fibers, resins, and wood gathered from Brazil and African countries. The medical exhibits showcase animal and human pathology lesions, either preserved dry, in a liquid medium, or replicated in wax. The zoological collection is the museum’s most extensive collection, with over 200,000 pieces. It includes a mounted skeleton of a 20m-long whale and complete specimens of preserved amphibians and reptiles. The museum also houses a collection of birds from various species worldwide, with a particular focus on Portugal and Portuguese-speaking countries. Additionally, the museum displays unique examples of a bear and two wild goats that are now extinct in Portugal. The collection of invertebrates includes 75% insects, with notable collections of beetles (Coleoptera), butterflies (Lepidoptera), and shells (mollusks).
The Coimbra Science Museum has a shop that sells science-themed earrings, badges, and other items, and its cafe serves brunch on weekends and lunch daily. Visitors can enjoy views of Coimbra from the cafe’s terrace.
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Visiting Museu da Ciência de Coimbra
10am-7pm Tue-Sun Mar-Oct, to 6pm Nov-Feb
adult/child incl Paço das Escolas, Biblioteca Joanina & Capela de São Miguel €12.50/free, without Biblioteca €7/free