The Museum of Natural History and Environmental Culture (Museo de Historia Natural y Cultura Ambiental MHNCA) is a complex of ten hemispherical structures and a total exhibition area of some 7,500 square meters. The collection includes some 2,775 specimens distributed amongst six broad sections:
- Evolution of Life
- Biological Diversity
- Mega-Diverse Mexico
- Human Evolution
- The Insect Collection
- Temporary exhibitions
The Museum foyer and green areas allow for additional environmental education and scientific activities.
The Diplodocus carnegii, a gift from the steel magnate’s wife, previously occupied the El Chopo Museum where it provided a centerpiece for that museum from 1931 until 1963. It was at last moved to it’s present location in 1964.
In 1999 the museum was transferred to administration by the Mexico City Secretariat of the Environment. The institutions history is almost as storied as that of the Diploducus.
1822 – Agustín de Iturbide creates the Mexican National Museum based on the Natural History Cabinet and the Antiquities Conservatory.
1866 – Maximiliano of Habsburg created a Public Museum of Natural History, Archaeology, and History
1870 – The Benito Juárez administration recreates a Mexican National Museum.
Porfiriato – The same National Museum grows to such an extent that it’s divided into History, Archaeology, and National History areas.
1909 – The National Museum of Archeology, History, and Ethnography and a National Museum of Natural History are opened with in the Palacio de Cristal, today the Museo del Chopo. These dual museums opened in 1913.
1929 – The two national museums are taken over the National Autonomous University of Mexico, but quickly went into decline and were temporarily closed. While some of the collection was moved to the UNAM Museum of Geology across Santa Maria la Ribera, it remained something like “the Mexico City museum” for close to 30 years.
1964 – the National Museum of Natural History is inaugurated
1999 – Construction begins on the Chapultepec facility
It wasn’t until years later that the museum was consolidated into Mexico City’s Museum of Natural History and Environmental Culture. The National Insect Collection, still housed there, consists of approximately 55,000 species, and can be visited by appointment.