|Goulandris Natural History Museum: Entrance at 13 Levidou St., Kifissia, Greece
This is the first time that “Athens Walker” is taking you to the more affluent northern suburbs of Athens and the occasion is a small museum that has been in operation for almost half a century now. The Goulandris Natural History Museum, dedicated to the study of natural sciences, is located in the green suburb of Kifissia, 5-minutes walk from the terminal Metro Station of Line 1. It was set up by Angelos and Niki Goulandris (of the ship-owning family) who were honored for their work related to the museum by the Council of Europe in 1983. The museum is visited by numerous school children each year and also hosts some significant scientific “satellite-organizations” like the National Centre of Habitats and Wetlands which studies Greece's rivers and lakes and all matters related to water. Coming here can be part of a trip / tour of Kifissia or a stand-alone visit if you have children who may find it interesting. However, this summer (2013) the museum is closed from July 15 to September 2nd. [I wasn’t aware of this when I made the blog-related visit 1.5month ago so pardon the awkward timing].
|Gaia Centre: Entrance of the building at 100 Othonos St., Kifissia, Greece
Gaia Centre is a newer (est. 2001), separate section of the museum complex, in an adjoining lot and connected building. It serves as an educational and scientific centre for matters related to the Earth and natural sciences and environmental education and has a more interactive character than the museum. It hosts interactive exhibits, posters, short films, dioramas, a few tactile exhibits (things you may touch with your hands), computer quizes and more. It is interesting for older children, but almost exclusively in Greek. There is a separate ticket for entering Gaia Centre [This summer (2013) Gaia Centre is closed from July 1 to Sep. 2].
|Giraffe welcoming you at the entrance of the Natural History Museum in Kifissia.
On the other hand, the Natural History Museum (the older section of the complex) is more suited for all ages and language groups. It is kind of old-fashioned from a design and presentation point of view (remember that 1983 award I mentioned above...) but, on the positive side, it is easy to tackle in a short amount of time and it has some scientifically and visually impressive, specialized collections of insects, butterflies, shells, stuffed birds and mammals, a small dinosaur skeleton and many, many fossils and rocks. All that, makes it ideal for kids (colorful, short and educational, not to mention that you can get up close and personal with a variety of stuffed animals).
|Butterfly collection at the Goulandris Natural History Museum
|Sea shells collection at the Goulandris Natural History Museum
|Colorful sea-shells collection at the Goulandris Natural History Museum ("Bivalvia is their scientific name")
|More creatures of the sea... Goulandris Natural History Museum
|Stuffed birds in a natural setting at the Goulandris Natural History Museum, Kifissia, Greece
|Stuffed animals in a natural setting at the Goulandris Natural History Museum, Kifissia, Greece
|All that glitters ain't gold, as proved in the basement floor of the Goulandris Natural History Museum, Kifissia, Greece. Various rock formations and fossils are hosted in this part of the museum.
For practical information on visiting the museum check out the "Athens Museums" tab, above.
*2018 update: A garden restaurant, called Museum-Café, has opened its doors in the last couple of years. It is open even in the summer months when the museum is closed and stays open till about 11:00pm.
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