Hall 5 (completely renovated and modernized in 2012) presents the worlds largest meteorite exhibit.
There are about 1,100 meteorites on display (including 650 different meteorites, consisting of 300 falls and 350 finds), many of which are historic falls or finds (see highlights). At the entrance to the hall from hall 4, a glass cabinet showcasts particularly large and important stony iron meteorites. The stony meteorite Knyahinya (weighing approx. 300 kg), which for many years was the largest known stony meteorite, is displayed in the center of this cabinet. Next to it are other stony meteorites of historical significance, such as Tabor, Stannern, Lancé, Mocs, Tieschitz, Florey, and Etter.
The concept for the upgrade of the meteorite hall included the renovation of the central historic display cabinets, supplemented by new display cases and multimedia stations along the walls and in the window area. These stations concentrate on different topics and try to engage the visitor in interactive displays. The thematic stations include a unique display of all Austrian meteorites (including the Ischgl meteorite, which was added to the collections in 2012 and is only the 7th meteorite named after a location on the Austrian territory), fossil meteorites, as well as stations on Mars and the Moon, complete with displays of Martian meteorites, lunar rocks, and lunar meteorites. Among the newest additions to the collection is the Tissint Martian meteorite, which was added to the collection in 2012).
Additional highlights are a basalt rock of 83.7 g from the Moon
and two samples of lunar soils (on long-term loan from NASA).
Other topics for the new display cabinets deal with meteorite showers and impact crater as well as impactites (rocks that formed during meteorite impact events). On the front sides of each of the central historic show cases, interactive screen with informative slide shows lasting a few minutes have been installed. The topics include: "Where do meteorites come from?", "Where and how do I find meteorites?" or "What are meteorites made of?", as well as information on stony meteorite, iron meteorites, the classification of meteorites, the history of meteorite research, and the history and importance of the Vienna meteorite collection.
A variety of multi-media stations add to the attraction of the new meteorite hall. In an Impact Simulator, visitors can control the extent of a possible destruction of the city of Vienna or Central Europe by the impact of asteroids with different sizes and velocities. A major highlight is a wide-screen animation on the Origin of the solar system, specially produced for the NHM Vienna. A large magnifying glass coupled with a wide screen and special software invites visitors to explore the interior of meteorites of various types.
The hands-on station Density of meteorites enables the visitors to determine the difference in density between iron and stony meteorites of the same size. An interactive quiz challenges the public to guess which of eight displayed meteorites and rock samples really come from space and which are terrestrial rocks ("meteorwrongs").
The renovated old display cabinets in the center of the hall (V/52-115) contain a systematic meteorite collection, based on the current mineralogical-chemical classification scheme, allowing the visitors to "walk through the classification of meteorites" and to learn more about some special meteorites that are of historic and/or scientific importance, and for which explanatory labels are included. The display starts with the carbonaceous chondrites and continues through the ordinary chondrites (H, L, and LL chondrites), the Rumuruti chondrites (R), the enstatite chondrites (EC), the achondrites, the pallasites, the mesosiderites, and, finally, the iron meteorites (which are arranged according to their chemical composition; based on the proportions of the trace elements Ga, Ge, and Ir).
Large iron meteorites, including the beautifully oriented Cabin Creek meteorite and Hraschina, the founding object of the Vienna meteorite collection, can be viewed in another large glass cabinet, V/116-121, close to the exit towards hall 6.
The newly renovated mechanical planetarium (planet machine or orrery), commissioned by Maria Theresia and constructed by Johann Georg Nesstfell during the years 1745-1757 is located in the corner to the left of the entrance from hall 4.
On the long wall above the showcases opposite of the windows three paintings depict (from left to right) the fourth hall of the old mineral collection in the Hofburg (imperial palace) (by Eduard Ameseder); the meteorite fall at Knyahinya (by Othmar Brioschi), and the first hall of the old mineral collection in the Hofburg (Fahrid Sabha, based on a water-color painting by Eduard Ameseder).
Do you want to know more about the meteorite collection and meteorites in general?
Brandstätter, F., Ferrière, L. & Köberl, C. (2012): Meteoriten - Zeitzeugen der Entstehung des Sonnensystems / Meteorites - Witnesses of the origin of the solar system. Verlag des Naturhistorischen Museums & Edition Lammerhuber, 270 pp. (bilingual).