The Natural history museum was founded in 1766 by Father J.B. Fourcault, court ornithologist. Until the end of the 19thcentury, the Zoology, Palaeontology, Mineralogy sections belonged to the same museum, housed in the main University building.
It was directed by such famous zoologists as Peregrin Strobel (1859-1864 and 1867-1885) and Angelo Andres (1899-1926).
Strobel conceived the collection of the Bottego gallery to house the whole Eritrean zoological collection (which dates back to 1889-1891), brought back to Italy by the captain Vittorio Bottego, Parma explorer of the Horn of Africa; but there the specimens are displayed according to Andres’ ideas about museums. Moreover, in 1907 the Bottego gallery was opened by Angelo Andres, who also unveiled the statue of the famous explorer that still stands in Dalla Chiesa square today.
In 1925 Andres completed the Systematics gallery too, a large room, showing the biodiversity of vertebrates from all across the world.
Finally, the Piola gallery conserves Congolese ethnological exhibits, collected by the soldier Emilio Piola, a few years after Vittorio Bottego’s expeditions.
It is here worth mentioning two other directors of the museum: the well-known scientists L. di Caporiacco and B. Schreiber.