The Natural History Museum is the oldest museum in operation in the archipelago of Madeira. It is installed in the Palace of St. Pedro, Funchal, one of the most significant works of the Portuguese civil architecture of the mid-eighteenth century, built by the family Carvalhal. The 1st Earl of Carvalhal was Joao Jose Vasconcelos Xavier Carvalhal Esmeraldo of Atouguia Bettencourt Sá Machado (1778-1837). It was his heir and 2nd Earl of Carvalhal, António Leandro Carvalhal(1831-1888). His marriage to D. Matilda of Montufar Infante had two daughters, D. Teresa da Câmara , the future Countess of Ribeiro Real D. and Maria da Câmara, who came to marry the Count of Resende.
At the Quinta das Cruzes Museum there is a painting of the Portuguese artist Tomas da Anunciação, dated 1865, which presents the 2nd Earl of Carvalhal and his family on a picnic on his property Palheiro Ferreiro in Funchal.
The palace was purchased in 1929 by the city of Funchal, and for some time, no longer residence of the Counts of Carvalhal. Since 1882, there existed the Carolina Sheffield Hotel and has also emerged the College of St. George, directed by Sister Mary Jane Wilson, founder of the Franciscan Congregation of Our Lady of Victories in 1884.
In 1897, still ran the International Club.
Initially was constituted as the Regional Museum, embraced, in addition to the Natural History, Ethnology and Archaeology, and today its exclusive scope of the Natural History. It was established in 1929, as proposed by the naturalist Adolfo Cesar de Noronha, a scholar of Ichthyology, of Ornithology, Malacology and Madeira Carcinology and later on he attached, in 1953 ,under the patronage of Charles L. Rolland, embroidery industrial , the Aquarium, located on ground floor of the Palace of St. Peter, with the scientific and technical guidance of Dr. Gunter Maul. Here there are represented the most important elements of coastal marine fauna of Madeira. Since its inception, the Museum had the invaluable help of taxidermist and German scientist Dr. Gunter E. Maul, director of the Museum between 1943-1981, featuring a growing collection of displayed animals. There are currently exposed, 78 fish species, 247 birds, 14 land mammals and marine reptiles 3, 152 insects and other invertebrates, and a representative collection of rocks and minerals of the archipelago, as well as marine fossils Port Ghost. The study collections of the Museum currently reach more than 37,500 copies.
Since its origin, this museum, revealed a regional dimension, presenting only species caught in the archipelago. Ordering principle is the knowledge of flora, fauna and geology of Madeira.
It develops actions for collection of species of the natural heritage of Madeira and projects of scientific groups in zoos, botanical and geological studies to ensure a better understanding of the natural heritage of Madeira, as well as its dissemination. It also conducts environmental education activities. Has always had a privileged part of scientific research, publishing, since 1945 the Bulletin of the Municipal Museum of Funchal, a powerful scientific tool for the dissemination of Madeira in the world.
The Museum publishes, not periodically reviewed yet ,Bocagiana, with registration of new species to science of different Atlantic archipelagos. The exchange with other organizations allowed the formation of an important specialized library.
This museum is part of the Department of Science of Funchal City Hall and the Marine Biology Station, next to the Coal Quay in Funchal.
The Teaching Section of the Municipal Museum of Funchal (Natural History), founded in 1990, is an informal structure whose primary objective is to promote the dissemination of information resulting from research activities at the Museum, with the Madeiran population.
Having a privileged means of action, the school population at all levels of education, the Teaching Section of the Municipal Museum of Funchal (Natural History) is an important element in achieving the objectives of this institution. It is undoubtedly through the museum that most locals, school age, acquire knowledge and motivations that enable their knowledge and interest in the study of natural history of the archipelago.