Dioramas

The dioramas in the natural science museums are expositional presentations, ecological and bio-geographical, in which the species of plants and animals are set up in backgrounds and sceneries mimicking their natural life habitat.

In this manner, the visitor acquires a pretty clear image about the relationships between certain species and their natural life habitat (nests, lairs layout, use of the terrain as part of the hunting strategies etc.) or the relationships between different species of animals (such as the prey-predator relationship).

The painted background or the scenery elements create to the viewer the image of a real nature scene and the illusion of reality. The layout of animals in postures imitating their natural behaviors increases this impression. The idea of using dioramas in the natural sciences museums belongs to the German biologist Gottlieb von Koch. The first dioramas, without a painted background, were created at the von Koch Museum in Darmstadt.
Dioramas from 1907

Unfortunately, these first dioramas were poorly conceived and executed, the naturalized animals being represented in unnatural positions, and not reflecting the natural relationships between animals in a real ecosystem.

It is our moral duty to underline that the dioramas of the National Museum of Natural History in Bucharest have a major historic importance, the first modern dioramas being created here, at the beginning of the 20th century, by the director of the institution, Dr. Grigore Antipa.

Many important museums in the world inspired themselves from the Bucharest Museum.

Subsequently, taking after this model in Bucharest, this presentation system spread all over the world, in all kinds of museums. The personalities of the time praised the accomplishments of the Romanian biologist. For example in his book, „The Greater Romania” (published in, in 1922), Professor James Upson Clark mentioned the dioramas created by Dr. Grigore Antipa in Bucharest, underlining they are a ’model for the entire world”.

Many important museums in the world (amongst which the Museum of Natural History of New York and the Great Oceanographic Museum in Berlin) used the diorama of the Bucharest museum as a model. Presently, a great success are the open dioramas, through which the visitor passes by, having the impression of walking in nature.