The hills are alive with the sound of science

3 Jan

Think of Salzburg and what comes to mind? The Sound of Music? Mozart? A really good science museum? Bet it wasn’t that last one.

We passed a lovely few hours this afternoon in the Haus der Natur, a museum which has unexpectedly leapt to pole-position in our personal pantheon. The Museum started life as a natural history museum and a great deal of it is still devoted to this subject, but it’s got a fair bit of everything. There’s an aquarium, fossils, minerals, various stuffed animals, dioramas of Tibetan life, and a truly outstanding section on harder science.

One of the most impressive things about the Haus der Natur is the way it ties in with the rest of Salzburg. Mozart features in several places including a room where you can feel a Mozart symphony as you sit surrounded by speakers. But he’s not the only connection. There’s the Tibetan angle through Heinrich Harrer who spent seven years in Tibet in the 1940s and wrote a bestselling book about his experiences.

The other local who tied in, and captured our interest as a great bit of road-schooling for the kids, was Christian Doppler – he of the doppler effect. There was a clear and in-depth presentation of the effect which certainly covered the ground better than anything I’ve seen elsewhere.

The Haus der Natur boasts several floors of interactive exhibits, The Science Centre, which clearly demonstrate a variety of scientific principles from air-pressure to balance in novel ways. This section has clearly benefited from some serious sponsorship leading to quality, well-maintained displays. I particularly liked the cut-away dentist drills which could be viewed under magnifying glasses; the silenced room where you can see how loud you shout; and the demonstrations of gyroscopes using a tightrope walk.

I wouldn’t suggest travelling to Salzburg for the Haus der Natur, but if you’re in Salzburg with kids it’s a great destination. It’s hard to rate the Haus against some of the massive science museums we’ve seen recently, Munich and Beijing, but as a small museum it is certainly perfectly formed and has made the absolute most of what it has to work with.

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One Response to “The hills are alive with the sound of science”

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  1. What’s cooking in Salzburg « Around the world - January 3, 2011

    […] spent the rest of the afternoon at the Haus der Natur: a lovely science museum which is covered in more detail over on our other blog. Then we walked back through the beautifully lit town to our flat via a stop at the […]

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