Last items leave the Museum

07.02.2011 | There is a really hard nut left to crack at the end of moving and that is temporarily relocating the buffalo, an almost 6 foot tall antelope and other large mammals.

These last unique items, which were on display in the National Museum, are being moved out of the historical building on Monday, November 7, 2011, because of the renovations being made. These showpieces of large mammals such as European elk, big kudu, okapi, bison and buffalo were created through the process of taxidermy (mounting animals). 

Moving European Elk

The larger portion of the zoological collections was moved in July 2011. The transfer of these last 5 items in the depositories in Horní Počernice takes place only now because it demands more skill since these animals are of venerable dimensions and weight.

The mannequins for the mounting are made of plaster using the old-fashioned method. It is not easy at all to manipulate these giants. Take the bison, buffalo or okapi during the transfer on the staircase to start with. The stability of the legs may be endangered, as the legs are relatively thin compared to the body.

Moving the European elk weighs twice as heavy on the workers of the moving agency. It is the heavy weight and wide spread attire, which together cause the difficulties.

To be extremely careful is therefore a must. These showpieces are extraordinarily significant from both a historical and zoological point of view. Any damage would be a big loss. The museum counts on them for future exhibits.

Only the well-known skeleton of the fin whales continues to dwell on the premises as the experts dissuaded the museum from moving it.  Neither the African elephant nor the Rothschild giraffe will move as these are just too bulky. They will be left inside the building placed in special mobile cases during the renovations.

Did you know that? (On the moving showpieces)

European elk

This largest deer-like mammal went extinct in the Czech Republic in the first half of the second millennium. After more than 5 centuries, it reappeared only in 1957 as a result of the successful protection of this species in Poland. Sad to say, the first returnee had an unhappy fate.

An irresponsible hunter shot it downjust shortly after it appeared on Czech territory in the Ore Mountains (Moldava, September 1958). Fortunately, the National Museum succeeded in obtaining the kill as a valuable document of the species. The museum taxidermists then created a well-done showpiece of it.

Big kudu

It has been a run-of-the-mill antelope until recently. Our showpiece is extraordinary because it belongs to a modest set of zoological items. They came to the National Museum from the wide-ranging collections of the well-known Czech traveler Dr. Emil Holub. Kudu joined the museum collections as early as 1894.


The okapi is currently one of the most rare mammals and showpieces. The National Museum obtained its male okapi in 1916. No more is known about the origin of this individual other than it comes from the expedition of Prof. Schultz in Congo. The fact that this species was “discovered” and scientifically described only 15 years earlier, stresses the importance of this showpiece. Richard Morawetz, its sponsor, was then appointed a member of the Museum Society of the Czech Kingdom, which was a rather prestigious affair at that time.


The buffalo is our eminent showpiece. It originated in the wild and came from the well-known Yellowstone National Park (USA). It joined our collections in 1909, two years after Filip Oberländer, a factory owner and traveler, hunted it for the museum.


When the bison came to the museum collections from the Prague Zoo (1953), it was still a very rare species. It is, however, in relative abundance nowadays. Our showpiece is valuable because it came to the Prague Zoo directly from Biolawiež, where the rescue breed kicked off. In a way, it is a genetic specimen of the initial breeding line.

Closing down the historical building does not mean we do not have anything to offer. The National Museum is not only one building. We have prepared a Museum pass for you which offers interesting benefits for the visiting of the other museum buildings.

Národní muzeum není jen jedna budova

National museum, Wenceslas square 68, 115 79 Prague 1