Monaco's Fabulous Oceanographic Museum
The large Oceanographic Museum equals the generosity of its founder Prince Albert I of Monaco who also was an explorer and a true reformer giving his Country a Constitution. Albert used to sail on large boats with a more and more sophisticated equipment in order to discover the countless mysteries of the seas and oceans. He even invented new instruments of navigation and studied the streams in North Atlantic. In 1901, South-West of the Cape Verde Archipelago, a trawling of more than 6,000 meters enabled to discover totally unknown species and namely a fish later called Grimaldichtys profondissimus.
When in Monaco, Albert who really is fascinated by oceanography, studies and researches in laboratories. As a ruling Prince, Albert undertakes a lot of constructions and deeply modifies the aspect of the Principality. The harbor is so much improved that high tonnage ships can be moored alongside the quays. A tunnel is pierced underneath the famous Rock, giving access to Fontvieille and an exotic garden is designed. The famous writer Colette will seize the opportunity to say "In Monaco, frontiers are flowers". After having created the Parisian Oceanographic and Paleonthology Institutes, Prince Albert founds the Monaco Oceanographic Museum. The erection of this beautiful edifice lasted 11 years from 1899 to 1910. The buildings overlooking the Mediterranean at 65 meters high, are in the Rococco Style, made of stone from La Turbie. With the Palace of the Princes of Monaco, this is the stateliest construction of the Principality. Since the beginning, the Museum's mission is to facilitate the works of scientists. The exceptional documentation, laboratories and a research boat, the "Winaretta Singer", especially adapted to the Mediterranean, are at their disposal. The other mission of this great museum is to help the general public appreciate and know more about the sea. The visitors are proposed permanent exhibitions and films. The collections include, on the first floor, a room devoted to Prince Albert expeditions. The "Discovery of the Ocean" is an exhibition held for children and teenagers. It features all aspects of physical oceanography with model ships and videos. The magnificent Applied Oceanography Room has kept its original décor. More than 10,000 species of seashells, mothers of pearls, scales, and amazing corals are displayed in ancient wood cabinets along with animals either stuffed or in skeletal form. Navigation instruments and techniques are also showcased and commented. Very interesting guided tours are organized by specialists.
The jewel of the Monaco Oceanographic Museum remains the aquarium. It is one of Europe's most spectacular offering 5,000 fish as well as fauna like seahorses, jellyfish, rays, sea cucumbers, cuttlefish, lobsters or starfish. A presentation of both Mediterranean and Tropical ecosystem enables to get familiar with the sea world that so much deserves our protection and respect. In 1989, the Caulerpe taxifolia was accidentally introduced into the aquarium. This seaweed, native to the Indian Ocean, created an invasive species.
Monaco Oceanographic Museum overloooking the Mediterranean.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6c/Oceanographic_Museum_Monaco.JPG
Inside the Museum.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e2/Oceanographic_Museum%2C_Monaco.jpg
The aquarium. Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b0/Monaco.Mus%C3%A9e_oc%C3%A9anographique031.jpg