The Natural History Museum was inaugurated and opened to the public on June 1, 1985 in the Saint-Pierre castle. Its history starts much earlier, in 1905, when the Société de la Flore Valdôtaine, founded in 1858 by the canons Georges Carrel and Edouard Bérard, gave rise to a private museum with the aim to study and disseminate the natural sciences and physical geography of the Valle d'Aosta. Since July 2015, the museum has been regionalized and acquired the denomination of Museo regionale di Scienze naturali Efisio Noussan.
The collections held at the Museo regionale di Scienze Naturali Efisio Noussan are the result of donations, collections by specialists in the various sectors of natural science and loans from institutions or private individuals. The items date mainly from the 20th century and, to a lesser degree, from the second half of the previous century.
The section of the Virtual museum dedicated to the collections contains the digitalisation of the items in high resolution. All the information on each sample is displayed in a table next to the image. Some species with particular interest have sheets with peculiar characteristics.
For some of the collections, the image can be zoomed to a high degree of detail (approx. 24 mega pixels).
Click on the search engine to find and view the sample of interest.
To search and view the spacimen of interest click "search"
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The herbariums are particularly important, in terms of both their size and their historic value. The first nucleus was formed as the social herbarium of the erbario sociale della Société de la Flore Valdôtaine. Abandoned and taken up again several times, it grew to contain more than 2000 specimens. Unfortunately, the repeated changes of the Museum's location between 1934 and 1975 had a serious impact on the state of the collections, causing some serious losses and damage. Subsequently, what remained of the historic herbarium was added to the New Herbarium of Aosta Valley Flora, the Museum's current official herbarium, which is constantly being integrated with the collections that take place during research in the Aosta Valley, in addition to other herbariums donated in the 1990s by researchers and enthusiasts, such as the Nosenzo donation and the Vergnano, Desfayes and Marchetti herbariums.
The collection is composed of more than 3000 exsiccata in the New herbarium of the Societé de la Flore Valdôtaine, which is constantly being implemented and updated. For the nomenclature we refer to Bovio 2014 (Bovio M., 2014: Flora vascolare della Valle d'Aosta); some species have hidden the locality for preservation reasons, this species are those mentioned in the allegate 'A' of the Legge Regionale 45, 7.12.2009.
Sheets: Mountain arnica, Alpine Wormwood, Round-leaved sundew, Marsh Helleborine, Great Yellow Gentian, European Larch, Martagon Lily, Common Peony, Ostrich Fern, Alpine Clover.
The collection includes 224 specimens collected during research conducted in 2012 and 2013 by Dr. Luca Miserere.
Sheets: Sphagnum capillifolium (Ehrt.) Hedw.
The Museum's lichenological collectionoriginally belonged to Abbé Henry (1870–1947), a great enthusiast about the mountain and nature, who over the years formed a vast collection of lichens from the Aosta Valley. Abbé Henry relied on help from some renowned lichenologists to identify many of his samples, including Italian Antonio Jatta and French Maurice Bouly de Lesdain.
The collection is composed of historical specimens traceable to Abbé Henry (more than 50 cards) and other, more recent collections from the Aosta Valley, for a total of 1728 samples.This important collection was badly damaged over time and much of the information was lost, seriously compromising part of its scientific value. However, its historical value remains intact, as it represents the first significant lichenological collection exclusively from the Aosta Valley territory.
Studies have allowed us to ascertain the Abbé's ownership, thanks to the high degree of correspondence between his publications and the samples in the collection (around 80%).
Today, this collection has been joined by other, more recent Aosta Valley collections.
For updated lichenological nomenclatures, we use the ITALIC information system ITALIC (P.L. Nimis & S. Martellos, 2008). Regarding the dates of the collection "Ameglio", when not present, are to be considered comprised between 1976 and 1998.
Sheets: Henry collections
The section dedicated to invertebrates is formed in particular of the entomological collection, which has a particularly large number of lepidopterans and coleopterans, demonstrating the importance and local variety of these insects, which include rare, localised or endemic species. The size of the Museum's collection is thanks to the contributions made by the Hellman, Brockmann and Kristall (macro-lepidopterans in particular), Manino (butterflies) and Bocca-De Bernardi (coleopterans) collections.
The entomological collection, mostly made up of lepidopterans, is composed of around 200 entomological boxes containing more than 8800 specimens. Click on the search engine to view the species of interest inside the entomological box in which it is contained.
Sheets: Brown Hawker, Apollo Butterfly, Piedmont Anomalous Blue, Dung Beetle.
Regarding vertebrates, the Museum has an ornithology collection that includes both historical collections from the original Societé de la Flore Valdôtaine museum, and collections that the Aosta Valley Region has purchased from the LIPU and then granted to the museum, in addition to the Bocca collection and other private donations. The collection of mammals includes specimens partly from the original Societé de la Flore Valdôtaine museum and partly from private collections. The two specimens of Wildcat (from the Societé de la Flore Valdôtaine museum and the Museum respectively), one Lynx and one Brown Bear from the Aosta Valley territory (both owned by Turin University), as well as a Wolf specimen (owned by the Florence Natural History Museum), are of particular historical importance. Among the birds, we note the presence of one of the last specimens of Bearded Vulture killed in the Western Alps in 1914.
The collection is composed of 828 specimens. Mostly birds (743) and mammals (69). Most of the samples are stuffed, although some are also preserved in liquid. The nomenclature refers to "Fauna d'Italia"; for some species that are not included in this list or with trinomial nomenclature (genus, species and subspecies) the reference used is "Handbook of the Birds of the World" (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, Lynx Edicions)
Sheets: Crested Tit, Bearded Vulture, Rock Ptarmigan, Wolf, Ibex, Brown Bear, Badger, White-throated Dipper, Pike.
The historical nucleus of the mineralogical and petrographic collections is represented by the contributions donated to the Societé de la Flore Valdôtaine museum by Pierre-Louis Vescoz in 1905. Unfortunately, when the Societé de la Flore Valdôtaine museum took back its collections in 1795 after a series of events, they found them partially damaged and much reduced. This did not prevent the museum from setting up a room dedicated to rocks and minerals for its grand opening in 1986, in particular thanks to the Margary donation. The collections include samples mainly from the Aosta Valley and have been extended over the years thanks to later collections and donations.
The petrographic collection is composed of rocks coming from all the geological units of the valley; the mineralogical collection hosts samples mainly from the Aosta Valley, but also some from abroad (more than 500 specimens in total).
Sheets: Pink Fluorite on Smoky Quartz, Gold, Plant fossils in clay schists, Granito, Vesuvianite.
The xylotheque is composed of around 100 sections of tree species, belonging to the Vintani collection (essences from the Aosta Valley) and the Favre collection, containing mainly essences from abroad, dating from 1910-1922.
The origin of the Museum Library comes from Société de Flore Valdôtaine Library and now has over 6000 volumes, between naturalistic texts, especially for educational character; scientific journals or information published by universities, scientific associations and environmental groups, Italian and foreign museums.