Jerusalem’s Nature Museum in the German Colony is a nature oasis in the middle of the city that offers visitors a range of educational nature and cultural activities.
The museum opened its doors to the public in 1962. It is housed in a historic structure named “Villa Decan.” Villa Decan was built in the 19th century by a rich Armenian merchant as his home. At the turn of the century the house was turned over to the Turks, and used by the Turkish Governor. Following World War I the building was used by the British High Commissioner, and later became an officer’s club. The building and courtyard were abandoned after the War of Independence and a center for nature studies was established in the 1950s.
Exhibitions cover various subjects in the field of natural sciences, with a strong emphasis on the wildlife of Israel, past and present. Especially prominent are the exhibits of birds and mammals of Israel. The human body is also presented in detail, illustrating the cardiovascular, circulatory, respiratory, nervous, reproductive, digestive, skeletal and muscular systems. The exhibits include panels, mounted animals, models and dioramas.
In addition to the museum’s permanent collection, there are temporary exhibits designed for students and the general public. Besides films, lectures and classes, the museum offers indoor and outdoor hands-on activities where visitors have direct contact with nature.
The museum also runs summer camps for children. Guided or assisted tours are available for groups of all ages. Reservations must be made in advance.