The Natural Sciences Museum
The Civic Natural Science Museum in Faenza was built in 1980 when, after the death Faenza-born surveyor Domenico Malmerendi, his large ornithological and entomological collection was donated to the city council. Thanks to its large and scientifically relevant collection the Malmerendi Museum is now a reference point for natural studies in the Ravenna province area. The Museum was built in the centre of a 12.000 square meters park, once a farm, which now is the Botanical Garden.
In the Museum the biological section is represented by several collections, starting with Malmerendi’s ornithological collection that comprises more than 2.500 specimens. It is worth noting that all birds have been taxidermized by the expert Malmerendi himself, giving a relevant homogeneity to this collection.
Moving to Malmerendi entomological collection we find 572 boxes with a total of more than 85.000 insects. This collection is extremely important, not only because many specimens represent the first presence of certain animals in Italy, but because some insects are types, meaning species new to science. Additionally, more entomological collections were acquired in the nineties.
It is also possible to see a collection of local mammals, resulting from animals killed in road accidents or poached (e.g. laces, poisoned food or illegal hunting). These specimens have been prepared by taxidermists and are now on display in a dedicated section, comprising: three couples of deer, roe deer and foxes; plus porcupines, stone martens, weasels, skunks, sylvatic minks, squirrels and others small mammals.
Getting out in the botanical garden we enter the “living part” of the Museum. The garden host more than 170 specimens starring the giant sequoia, more than 24 meters high and with a complete crown, it is a rare example of a sequoia in an urban area. The specimens, when possible, are divided into biomes (maquis shrubland, beech zone, ecc.).
Minerals and fossils represent the abiotic section.
The Oriolo Pleistocene mammals represent the faunal association populating the Faenza area 800.000 to 900.000 years ago. Extremely relevant is the disarticulated, but complete elephant skull (Mammuthus meridionalis) found in the “sabbie gialle” (yellow sands) formation in Oriolo, Faenza, together with bison, hippopotamus and rhinos. The Brisighella Mio-Pliocene mammals collection is extremely valuable to science: studies of Florence University have determined several holotypes, such as Plioviverrops faventius, Canis monticinensis etc.. The mammal fauna, which inhabited the Peri-Mediterranean area 5.5 million years ago, has been reconstructed trough tens of skeletal remains found in the local area. In addition, the Museum host more than thousand specimens of the Faenza Speleological Group collection, which comprises more than thousand specimens between malacological collection, minerals, fossils and cave formations.
Last curiosity, in front of the Museum we find a calcareous bock, on the surface we can distinguish two dinosaur tracks: a theropod (carnivore) and a sauropod (herbivore). The block, coming from a quarry in the Alps, was placed in the Porto Corsini (Ravenna) breakwater in the nineties, and only the sharp eyes of a amateur discovered the tracks, which otherwise would have been lost.
Due to intangibility issues, in January 2011, the Faenza City Council decided to close the Museum. After formal discussions the Faenza Speleological Group (G.S.F.), according to the Faenza Council, agreed to manage the Museum. Major refurbishing works, run by volunteers, started in September 2011, including recovery of the botanical garden, refurbishing of the Museum outer and inner structure, and the roof. In the meantime, a scientific committee was designed to guarantee the collection management. The committee includes: Enzo Bagnaresi, Roberto Evilio (Faenza Speleological Group), Fabio Semprini, Ettore Contarini (Romagna Natural Studies Association), Franca Pozzi (president of M. Guaducci Cultural Centre, Zattaglia), Stefano Gellini ("Ferrante Foschi” Ornithological Museum, Forlì), Massimo Ercolani (Regional Speleological Federation, E.R.), Stefano Bassi (regional technician, Park Service), Marco Sami (Pangea), Massimiliano Costa (director of “Vena del Gesso” Park). After months of works and loads of eliminated waste, the 15th of September 2012 the city Mayor officiated the new opening, launching a temporary exhibition on butterflies and new educational activities and laboratories for schools.