Diorama of a Wetlands Pond

Natural History Museum Vienna

Natural History Museum Vienna

Entomology Department of the NHM. 2004.

Many museums have habitat representations. Adaptation to historic surroundings and the visual linking of diorama and showcase, however, are unique.

The idea for the diorama evolved quickly: an Austrian body of water was to be the counterpart of an Amazonian river landscape. The Danube meadows were an obvious choice, not just because of the number of species living there, but also because of their many connections to Vienna. Weeks of observation outdoors preceded the detailed planning. Aspirations were high: the diorama was to represent a snapshot of the actual happenings in nature as closely as possible. Insects as part of the food chain formed the starting point of the deliberations. Flies, gnats and water boatmen were positioned near the bank as potential prey for the well camouflaged pool frogs, but also in the rushes for tree frogs and reed warblers. The frogs have to find a safe place as soon as the grass snakes have finished sunbathing. Fire-bellied toads and common toads would probably escape successfully because of their unpleasant taste. Under water, great diving beetles scurry around, as do their larvae which – just like the various dragonfly larvae – are some of the most ravenous hunters in the wetlands pond. They share their habitat with fish and river snails, with common newts and Danube crested newts, and also with the pond turtle when he splashes into the water in search of food. The goal of the diorama is to enable visitors to discover the many interactions and mutual dependencies in an ecosystem. In order to smooth visitors’ mental journey back to the museum after an imaginary excursion to the Danube meadows, rushes and willows “grow” up over the display cabinets, creating a visual link to the rest of the exhibition hall.

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  • Title: Diorama of a Wetlands Pond
  • Rights: (c) NHM (Lois Lammerhuber)