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Teylers Museum has a multifaceted (natural) sciences collection. Between 1778 and 1950, the museum was above all a dynamic research institute. Natural scientists could raise important questions here: about the universe, the Bible, the laws of nature and mankind’s place in nature. To find answers, they studied the expanding collection of instruments, fossils, minerals and books. The collection was also used for study, experiments and demonstrations. The global advance of science can be traced at Teylers Museum!


Teylers Museum holds nearly 18,000 scientific instruments and inventions, dating from the 18th to the early 20th century. The first museum director, Martinus van Marum, and his successors continued to acquire the latest devices, which learned contemporaries used to research phenomena like heat, sound, electricity, magnetism and light. In this way, the museum acquired the largest Electrostatic Generator in the world, rare telescopes and the earliest electric light bulb: the entire technological revolution passes by our visitors!

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Teylers Museum’s collection of fossils comprises approximately 75,000 fossilized remains and traces of extinct plants and animals. It includes pieces known around the world, like the first example ever found of a Mosasaurus, or lizard of the Meuse River, and the famous ‘Zondvloedmens-fossiel’, or deluge man fossil. Fossils played an important role in debates about the origin of life and the age of the earth. The museum acquired them when palaeontology, or the study of fossils, was developing into a science – but they are still actively studied today.


Teylers Museum’s mineral collection is a proper cornucopia for anyone who loves geology and natural history. With more than 10,000 minerals – including meteorites, gemstones, ores and crystals – it is one of the oldest and most diverse rock collections in the Netherlands. The collection began in the 18th century with the purchase of the famous collection of the German mineralogist Johann Gmelin. It has since been expanded with many extraordinary and rare pieces, including objects unique in the world. The most beautiful ones are on display in the Oval Room.

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Three sub-collections of scientific books taken together make up the Library of Teylers Museum. The first sub-collection comprises work by ancient Greek and Roman authors. The second, the ‘natural history library’, consists of books about botany, zoology, geology, palaeontology and travelogues. And there are also the publications and periodicals of institutes and learned societies: altogether, more than 130,000 volumes, of which about 100,000 are periodicals and almost 40,000, books – the majority of them from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Highlights of the collection are, among others, the Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et Métiers, edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert, completed in 1780, and an influential work of the French Englightenment. There is also a first edition of John J. Audubon’s The Birds of America, published between 1827 and 1838.

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Spaarne 16, 2011 CH Haarlem

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