There has been a “musaeum” in Admont Monastery since Baroque times, though we know little for certain about what it contained since, following the spirit of the time, all sorts of rarities and curiosities would also have been preserved alongside the natural history objects.
Early in the 19th century Abbot Gotthard Kuglmayr (reigned 1788-1818) acquired several collections: a collection of minerals, a xylothek (forest botany collection in book form) and various herb collections. Abbot Gotthard founded in 1809 the “Natural History Cabinet” with these and some ethnological and archaeological specimens.
In addition, this “Cabinet” contained a physics and chemistry laboratory for teaching purposes as also the “universe” by the Baroque sculptor Josef Stammel (1695-1765). This was a roughly 4-metre high group of carvings which presented a concentrated view of the human universe in a wealth of figures and reliefs.
The devastating Monastery fire of 1865 destroyed the Natural History Cabinet - and thus its contents including Stammel’s Universe. One year after the fire the then 20-year-old Gabriel Strobl entered Admont Monastery and was entrusted by Abbot Karlmann Hieber (reigned 1861-1868) with rebuilding the Natural History Museum.
In 44 years of work - until his stroke in 1910 - Pater Gabriel Strobl built up the Museum anew. In his first 12 years of work he devoted himself principally to botany, before dedicating himself completely to insect research (entomology) for the following 32 years.
In the difficult period of the “annexation” of Austria to Faschist Germany in 1938, the expropriation of Admont Monastery by the National Socialists in 1939, the following war years and until 1949 the then curator of the Natural History Museum, Hans Kiefer, did sterling service in caring for the inventory. Above all Kiefer attempted to restore the collections, which had been removed to the Graz Joanneum during the war years, back to Admont Monastery.
Dr. Günter Morge, the next curator, continued his attempts to bring back the collections and could regain almost all the collections remaining in Graz to Admont between 1966 and 1972. In the course of the renovation and replanning of the Museum complex in Admont Monastery the rooms of the Natural History Museum were also renovated and ceremoniously opened on 2 May 2004.