What is the Museum of Nature and Archaeology officially?
The Museum of Nature and Archaeology (El Museo de la Naturaleza y Arqueología) is a cultural attraction set inside the Old Civil Hospital in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It's a beautiful neoclassical building that was transformed to house the museum in 1958. The collections here focus on archaeology, natural sciences, bioanthropology and the initial inhabitants of the Canary Islands (the Guanches) through traditional look-only displays and a couple of interactive exhibits you can play with.
The permanent exhibition begins on the ground floor with "Origins and Nature of the Canary Island Archipelago". Here films and images guide you through the geology, evolution, volcanic nature and meteorological phenomena of the Canaries. Then it's onto "Natural Sciences", dedicated to plants and animals, then "Archaeology", filled with artefacts dug up across the islands.
Floor 2 continues with "Canary Islands Down the Ages", covering how the islands have changed over the years and themed collections of African ethnography and pre-Columbine artwork. "Prehistory of the Canary Islands" looks at the lifestyles of the ancient settlers and "Human Bio-Anthropology" focuses on the Guanches and is where you'll find the mummies. "Fossils, Minerals and Rocks" is full of exactly that and "Marine Biology" features life-sized replicas and taxidermy of marine animals.
What is the Museum of Nature and Archaeology really?
The museum's name is rather ambiguous, but exhibits start off very strongly. They impress with videos, projections and bass-heavy sound and lighting effects of earthquakes, rainstorms, volcanoes erupting, that sort of thing. Then it goes a bit crap and becomes the museum that every schoolboy hates because it's all reading about unimportant historic stuff that has no affect on the average person's life.
Pots and bowls are a plenty. Mostly broken and so dull. The dead animal section is interesting, whilst being a bit morbid and sad. If they stuffed them with a smile on their face you'd feel a bit better about walking through this pet cemetery. Plan your visit right and you can have the dead people section as your finale. Spooky stuff.
Ian's Museum of Nature and Archaeology review
The first 10 minutes were fab and I was thinking this could receive my highest things to do in Tenerife rating yet...Then it turned rubbish. Being the ignorant non-Spanish speaker, I struggled to make head or tail of most of it. And yet I don't feel like I missed out.
Not speaking Spanish was the perfect excuse to not learn about what type of saucepan the Guanches boiled their eggs in, or how to make a musical instrument from a goats left testicle. The dead stuff stuff kept my attention. Although the question "why?" was repeatedly asked. The royal dead dudes are the museums saving grace. But they're just lying there. It's not exactly a Thriller re-enactment.
I was happy enough to go once with Nicky. But if my mum asks to visit, Ill be waiting in the car.
Overall rating: ⅗ (if they take out the mummies it'll drop to 1)
Nicky's Museum of Nature and Archaeology review
There was only one reason I wanted to visit the Museum of Nature and Archaeology - mummies. Ever since seeing royal mummies in Egypt, I've been borderline obsessed and wanted to see them in Tenerife at this museum.
As soon as I was through the door, I was keen to rush straight to the mummy display. But after being reminded of the purpose of my visit (to write a review so you know all the best things to do in Tenerife!) I sauntered along through the rest of the exhibits, looking at everything from teeny tiny butterflies hardly bigger than the pins used to keep them in place to ancient pots rescued from I've no idea where.
The mummy exhibition inside the Museum of Nature and Archaeology is really tiny, but it's still amazing. Loads of mummies of all ages and sizes are stacked up in individual temperature-controlled glass cases. Some were 100+ years old and some were little more than days old. There were even royal Guanche mummies on display with the precious objects they were buried with.
If you're really interested in seeing some mummies or the latest temporary exhibition is calling your name, I definitely recommend a visit to the Museum of Nature and Man. Although you'll really struggle if you don't speak the language. All the descriptions are in Spanish and while there are some translation cards in some of the rooms, it's a bit hit-and-miss as to whether or not you'll find an English one spare. With the exception of the animal displays, I thought the rest of the museum was lacking, erring on the side of dull, and could be greatly improved.
Overall rating: ⅗
Insider tips for the Museum of Nature and Archaeology
Go on a Friday or Saturday afternoon
The Museum of Nature and Archaeology is totally free to everyone after 4pm on Fridays and Saturdays. You don't need a special coupon or anything like that. Just show up after 4pm and you can waltz in for free.
Make use of the translations
When you walk into a new room, look to the walls either side of the door frame. This is where the laminated cards with the translations are kept. Just know that not all the translations are in the right places. So you could end up looking at a taxidermy eagle display and reading about ancient guanche religious rituals for a few minutes before you click.
Find the mummies on the 2nd floor
We spent more time than we care to admit walking around and around the museum looking for the mummy display. In fact, we wandered around so much that Ian was convinced Nicky had got things mixed up and there were no mummies in the museum at all. But there are! Walk up the steps leading to the 2nd floor, turn left and follow the corridor all the way to the end, turn right and you should be in the right place.
Important info about the Museum of Nature and Archaeology
Official name: Museo de la Naturaleza y Arqueología
Official website: Museo de la Naturaleza y Arqueología
Contact details: +34 922 53 58 16
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 9am-8pm | Sunday, Monday, bank holidays 10am-5pm | Closed over Christmas and on Carnival Tuesday.
Access to the museum stops 30 minutes before closing time.
Suggested time: 2 hours
Canarian residents: €3 standard, €2 for OAPs with proof of age (you must provide proof residency)
Non-residents: €5 standard, €3.50 for OAPs with proof of age
Children under 8 years old: free
Anyone can access the museum for free on Fridays and Saturdays, 4pm-8pm.
Please check the official Museum of Nature and Archaeology website before you go for the latest opening hours and prices.
Museum of Nature and Man map
More reviews of museums in Tenerife you'll love
- The Museum of Science and The Cosmos - a hand-on interactive place that tries its best to make science fun.