History

startbild geschichte

Since it was founded in the 17th century, the museum with its collections has been shaped and formed by prominent personalities in research.

majorJohann Daniel Major
(1634-1693) was the first professor for medicine at the University of Kiel. Inspired by his visit at the University of Padua, he founded the museum in Kiel in 1674, then called “Museum Cimbricum”. He was involved in academic teaching and organised public tours. His heirs sold the collection after Major’s death for 60.000 Reichsthaler. The university had to manage without an academic museum of this kind for another 80 years.


fabriciusJohann Christian Fabricius (1745-1808), distinguished insect scientist and student of Carl v. Linnés, was appointed as the chair for economy, cameralism and natural history. He started immediately to establish a natural history collection and a museum. The year 1775 therefore became the official founding date of the collection in Kiel. After Fabricius’ death the university acquired his world-renowned private collections, which made the museum known overnight far beyond regional scales.


wiedemannChristian Rudolf W. Wiedemann (1770-1840)
In 1805 Wiedemann was appointed first tenured professor of obstetrics in Kiel. Wiedemann took a great interest in natural history – his main focuses were set on insects, minerals and molluscs. His work about Diptera (flies) are still of importance today. Unfortunately no portraiture of Wiedemann survived until today.


behnWilhelm Friedrich Georg Behn (1808-1878), Professor for anatomy and zoology, took on the administration of the scientific collections in 1836. Under his management the natural history museum is converted into a zoological museum. The heavily neglected collections are modernised and expanded through purchases and bestowals. The move to the Warleberger Hof took place in 1839. Through his participation in the circumnavigation of the globe on the Danish corvette “Galathea” (1845-1847), Behn contributes valuable material to the Museum in Kiel, which more than doubles its collections.


moebiusKarl August Möbius (1825-1908) was appointed to the newly founded chair of zoology at the University of Kiel in 1868. His work and concepts are crucial for the development of the Zoological Museum. Through his research at oyster colonies he develops the term “biocoenosis”, which today is a central term in ecology and modern evolutionary research.  His travels to Mauritius (1874/75) brought new and scientifically very valuable material to the museum. His collections from the North and the Baltic Sea are to the present day exceptional documents of climate and faunal change of northern European coasts. Möbius becomes one of the defining founders of marine research in Kiel.
Möbius is furthermore a brilliant pedagogue – he develops a fundamentally new museum concept. In cooperation with the renowned Berlin architects Martin Gropius and Heino Schmieden he develops for the first time a museum, which distinguishes between public exhibition halls and non-public research collections.
Möbius’ exhibitions concepts are also innovative. The exhibitions combine a systematic structure with additional anatomic, physiologic and zoogeographical concepts.


hensen
Viktor Hensen (1835 – 1924) was an exceptional personality: He accomplished remarkable achievements both in medicine and marine biology and he altered the field of research in both disciplines permanently. Hensen was appointed tenured professor for physiology at the medical faculty in 1868 with 29 years. For three terms he was rector of the university in Kiel. In marine biology he was most interested in the quantitative acquisition of fish stocks. In this area he achieved groundbreaking results:

  • For the first time economically important fish stocks could be verified quantitatively
  • The development of the “vertical egg net according to Hensen” to determine the fish egg numbers in the water column marks the beginning of the quantitative methodology in marine science
  • The discovery of the possibility of age determination of fishes using otoliths (“ear bones” in the inner ear of fishes), which form yearly growth rings.

In the egg nets Hensen regularly found by-catch of microscopic animals and plants. He recognised the critical importance of these organisms and in 1887 coined the term “plankton” He furthermore developed the plankton net, which is still vitally important today.
One of the highlights in his plankton research was the ship expedition of the Alexander-von-Humboldt-foundation in 1888/9 in the Atlantic Ocean, the so-called “plankton-expedition”. Its results became a reference in marine research through the completely new quantitative data and the great number of new species.
As a member of the Prussian Landtag (state parliament) he achieved the installation of the “Commision for the scientific exploration of the German Seas” in 1870. Starting in 1871 the commission undertook voyages on the research vessel “Pommerania” in the Baltic and the North Sea.


brandtKarl Brandt (1854 – 1931)
After being chosen as a substitute for Karl August Möbius in April 1887, Brandt was appointed chair of zoology at the University of Kiel in 1888 and at the same time became the new director of the Zoological Institute and Museum. In 1888 he participated in the plankton-expedition under the leadership of Victor Hensen. He specifically concentrated on the mass balance in the ocean and was able to prove the role of the solved nitrogen and phosphorus compounds for marine life.
In 1922 Brandt was given emeritus state. Following Hensen’s death in 1924 he assumed the chair of the Prussion scientific commission for the exploration of the German seas.


buddenbrockBaron Wolfgang von Buddenbrock (1884-1964) became Karl Brandt’s successor as the chair of zoology in 1923. He was a great observer and discovered many new life forms. He especially furthered the understanding of the senses of different organisms. He is the founder of the new comparable physiology. His marine research fields are the comparable physiology, respiratory physiology of insects and sensory physiology of molluscs. His time in Kiel ended abruptly in 1936 because of a conflict with the National Socialist Party, which resulted in a forced relocation to Halle.


remaneAdolf Remane (1898 – 1976), one of the most significant zoologists of his time, took over the institute and museum shortly before World War II. The latter was closed in 1940. Collections were evacuated and bombs hit the building.

After the war Wolf Herre (1909 – 1997), later director of the institute of domestic animal science, and colleagues and students rebuilt the museum so far that it was possible to reopen parts of the exhibitions on the 8th August 1946 – before all other Zoological Museums in Germany. Remane returns in 1948. After his resignation Reinhard Schuster and afterwards Ernst Kullmann assume responsibility for the institute and the museum.


After 1968 Peter Ohm, later the academic director, carries out the museum work. In his time in office several rooms are redesigned, despite little resources. Wolfgang Dreyer takes over the directorship in 1988 and renovates the museum fundamentally. In the years that followed, permanent exhibitions were newly conceptualized and the valuable collections were listed scientifically. In the mid 90s the »Zoologicum« is established, a modern museum school with best optical equipment and great didactic teaching possibilities. Since 2007 the collections are digitalised and connected to the data program SeSam of the research museum Senckenberg.

A selection of historical photographs:               

Additional information