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TOURNAI
Natural History Museum and Vivarium


Photos 12143932.JPGFounded in 1828 in the Dutch period, the Tournai museum opened its doors to the public in September 1829. It is therefore the oldest museum in the country with public access. The cabinet of curiosities or Wunderkammer belonging to the founders has been re-constructed in the Barthélemy Dumortier room. The Bruno Renard gallery shows the most interesting and spectacular pieces coming from rich collections of thousands of specimens from all over the world. The Paul Simon diorama room offers dioramas faithfully reproducing biotopes where animals are shown in their natural environment. The vivarium houses a hundred or so species of reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates, some of which are threatened with extinction, and are part of a conservation programme in which the Tournai museum plays an active part. In 1839, the museum took up residence in the buildings of the old brewery of the abbey of Saint-Martin. Its neo-classical architecture is due to the presence in Tournai of the architect Bruno Renard. This architecture, which was designed from the outset to accommodate zoological collections, has been painstakingly preserved, and is alone worth making a detour to see. Archives of the museum foundation and from the 19th century may be consulted on request, with due authorization.
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