The Natural History Museum of Crete offers a unique opportunity for visitors to expand their understanding with fascinating insights. Dedicated to the island’s environment, it also covers the broader regions of Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Established in the late 1980s by the University of Crete’s School of Sciences, the museum’s mission is to research and promote awareness of the natural world among both locals and tourists, focusing on the island and its surrounding seas.
The museum comprises various specialized sections: —Wildlife Division—Cultural Studies Division—Rock and Mineral Division—Plant Life Division—Prehistoric and Earth Sciences Division.
In partnership with the University of Crete, the museum focuses on:
· Enhancing and managing environmental exhibits;
· Conducting comprehensive research on the region’s natural world;
· Advancing public understanding and education in environmental conservation.
In its early years, the museum’s growth was sluggish until 1985 when a surge in acquisitions, funding, and volunteer support marked a period of rapid expansion. Today, its collection boasts over two million items. A significant milestone occurred in 2007 when the museum relocated to a refurbished building, previously owned by a state power company. Now, it boasts a modern 3,500 sqm exhibition hall right on the Mediterranean coast in Heraklion’s heart.
Venturing into a museum is not just educational; it enriches your life in subtle ways. It’s particularly thrilling for first-timers. If you’re vacationing on Crete with family, the Natural History Museum of Crete should be a top priority. It’s an exhibit that will captivate both young and old alike!
The profound bond we feel with the natural world emerges only through direct interaction. Recognizing our role on Earth and our impact on its ecosystems shifts our awareness. Protecting nature isn’t just about dramatic pleas at international assemblies; it’s about the small, consistent efforts we each make daily. Grasping this can lead to a brighter future for everyone.
Spread across four floors, the establishment’s display features a vast array of exhibits. Dominating the collection are life-sized dioramas, detailed replicas of animals and dinosaurs complete with motion and sound effects. Additionally, the museum’s live section showcases a variety of creatures native to Crete, mostly consisting of reptiles and marine life.
The Stavros Niarchos Research Center has crafted an innovative educational initiative targeting children up to 15 years old. This program melds interactive technology with captivating information, delivered in a dynamic style that keeps the lectures engaging.
A standout feature is the seismic simulator—an exhibit that offers a hands-on experience of earthquakes, allowing visitors to literally feel the ground shake beneath them.
In an exclusive space, young explorers get to delve into the real work of paleontologists by uncovering their very own «fossil». This immersive experience could spark a passion that leads a child to discover ancient species in the future.
Opened in 2016 under the LIFE Natura2000 Value Centre initiative, a dedicated exhibit showcases Crete’s natural habitat. It features four advanced interactive displays that highlight the region’s unique ecosystem, local species, and conservation efforts to protect the island’s biodiversity against looming threats.
The museum also hosts a variety of temporary exhibits. These displays, while not always related to natural history, appeal to a diverse audience. Keep an eye on the Official website for the latest announcements.
The facility is centrally located in Heraklion by the Mediterranean Sea. A short 15-minute walk to the east is the Koules Fortress, a key landmark of the island. Even closer, just a 5-minute stroll, you’ll find the Historical Museum of Crete.
In the vicinity, you’ll find a variety of cafes, eateries, and shops with ample parking. Navigating to the Natural History Museum of Crete is straightforward, with the ferry dock serving as a central landmark where major routes of Heraklion and Crete converge. The museum is just a 3-minute drive from the dock’s parking area. Simply follow Leof. Nearchou Street, keeping the sea on your right and heading straight towards the Centre. After passing through three roundabouts, the path veers slightly right. Look for a green building in the distance, marked by dinosaur sculptures—that’s your destination.
Reaching the museum from other major cities is straightforward: take the E75/EO90 highway that stretches along the island’s northern coast. Upon entering Heraklion, follow the signs directing you to the ferry dock. The route from there is detailed above.
· Personal photography is permitted in the museum, but please ensure to turn off your flash in the live exhibit area to avoid disturbing the marine life and reptiles, akin to not dazzling other drivers with high beams at night.
· At the reception desk, visitors can request a map for navigation.
· Facilities for baby care, including a diaper-changing station, are available in the women’s restroom.
· Please note that outside food is not permitted in the gallery areas. Since there is no cafe on the premises, it’s advisable to eat before your visit.
· Lastly, pets are not allowed within the museum. While they can be left outside, the museum does not take responsibility for their well-being.