Zoological Station

Zoological Station


The Anton Dohrn Zoological Station in Naples is a scientific institution and research institution located in Villa Comunale (between Via Caracciolo and the Riviera di Chiaia), in the Chiaia district. It also includes an aquarium, the oldest in Italy (and the second oldest in Europe, the first of those still exist).

Historical notes

The Zoological Station in 1872 shortly after the construction of its original nucleus, and before its enlargement to the west.

Founded in 1872 by the German naturalist and zoologist Anton Dohrn, born in Szczecin in 1840 and graduated in Natural Sciences in Berlin, for the understanding and study of the flora and fauna of the sea, it represented soon one of the most authoritative scientific institutions towns, alongside those made by the Bourbon kings: the Botanical Garden in Foria and the Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte.

It was the first institution of derivation not Bourbon and was founded in Naples for their choice of the same Dohrn, fascinated by the city and interested for the rich fauna of the Gulf. The Aquarium of Naples with adjoining zoological station became a World Center for the study of marine biology.

After visiting an aquarium recently opened in Berlin, Dohrn thought that open in Naples in an aquarium would guarantee payment to the laboratory enough money to pay the salary of a permanent assistant. Naples, with a population of 500,000, was one of the largest and most attractive cities in Europe, and also had a considerable flow of tourists (30,000 a year) that could be potential users of the aquarium.

Dohrn was able to overcome the doubts of the city authorities and persuaded them to give it a free small piece of land on the shore of the sea, the Villa Comunale, provided to build the Zoological Station at its expense. His first collaborator, the realization of the Idea-Project, was the officer of the Navy Sail Bourbon Justin Salvatore, Naples native Ortona (CH), which then, granting the request, allowed him to marry his daughter Emma Salvatore , his first assistant.

After his death the leadership passed to his son Rinaldo Station and then to his nephew Peter.

Dohrn opened to scientists visiting the station in September 1873, and the general public in January 1874.

With the intention of promoting the international status of the station and to ensure the ‘political and economic independence and the freedom of research, then Dohrn introduced a number of innovative methods to finance its project. First, the rental of the work and of the search space (the “Bench System”) for an annual rate university, governments, scientific institutions, private foundations or individuals could send for one year a scientist at the station, where he would find available everything you need to lead research (supply animal, chemical, an exceptional library and an expert staff). These facilities were offered without ties, meaning that scholars were totally free to conduct their own projects and ideas. Bench system worked extremely well, and when Anton Dohrn died in Monaco of Bavaria in 1909, more than 2,200 scientists from Europe and the United States had worked in Naples, and more than 50 tables-to-year were hired. The success of the Zoological Station, and the new way to conduct and fund research are the main legacy of Dohrn. Subsequently, in every part of the world they were built scientific research centers inspired by the model of the Zoological Station in Naples, which can thus be considered the first research center in the modern sense.

According to recent studies of organizational sociology, the Zoological anticipated in full industrial era a planning model of post-industrial scientific research, that he favored themes typically present as interdisciplinarity, the managerial capacity of self-financing (through the aquarium and the sale of marine animals to other research institutes, etc.), the promotion of cooperation and collaboration of all those involved in research (co-workers, engineers, fishermen and attendants). In its laboratories they have been active more than 19 Nobel laureates giving significant impetus to the development of the biological sciences.

Scientific studies today

Dohrn held at the station today research in biology and oceanography, in an interdisciplinary way in the specific fields of biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, neurobiology and neurophysiology as well as various branches of ecology.

The station has supplied the Vettoria, a research vessel specially designed to operate sampling sea in biology and marine ecology.

The aquarium

The aquarium of the Zoological Station, along with herbarium, to the archives, the library and the interesting menagerie, is the building of the station and is one of the oldest structures of its kind in Europe. It was opened to the public in January 1874. The intention of Dohrn, would serve both to ensure resources for the institution to spread knowledge and interest on marine organisms in public opinion. Originally, it covered 527 square meters and was exclusively dedicated to the fauna of the Mediterranean. A second building, connected to the first by a bridge, was added between 1885 and 1888, while the courtyard and the east wing were built in 1905.

Today the aquarium contains about thirty tanks with more than two hundred species of marine animals and plants, most of which come from the Gulf of Naples. Periodically are hosted several sea turtles, mainly the species Caretta caretta, wounds recovered at sea and waiting to be reintroduced into their native habitat. In 1957 between the first and the second building was added a new room where the library was transferred.

In the central room: there are the aquarium tanks arranged side by side in the shape of a horseshoe on both walls.

In the room the west: this is the angle museum aquarium with fish or preserved fossils found over the years in the Gulf of Naples.

The library

The Library was founded in 1873 with the donation of the first group of scientific texts by Anton Dohrn. Today the library has more than 90,000 volumes arranged on ca. 3,000 linear meters of shelves, and is characterized by a valuable collection of early scientific texts and their reprints, as well as 180 journals contemporary.

From 1875 to 1955, the library was placed in the large frescoed room on the first floor, now a historical library and reading room. The room was beautifully painted in four months of work in 1873 by the German painter Hans von Marées in collaboration with his partner Adolf von Hildebrand, the young sculptor and architect. Marées chose to decorate the life of the Neapolitan fishermen around him, presenting images of great power, populated by male figures and male nudes majestic and sensual, despite the simplicity of the activities in which they are intent. We recognize:

On the west wall: fishermen ready to set sail intent to charge other networks on the boat that are pushing into the water; man in the background, bent down to pick up the network, there is a reference to the similar figure in the tapestry that Raphael for the Sistine Chapel with the miraculous catch, hoist the fish on board; the gradual shading of colors from left to right seems to accompany the departure of the fishermen on the open seas; The nakedness of some fishermen indicates a reference to classical painting;

On the north wall: fishermen paddling vigorously while standing on a boat; old fisherman who accompanies a young woman in a promenade; fishermen have contemporary clothes and also the head of the boat can be recognized by the red scarf tied at the waist; cutting picture Modern stresses the dynamic dimension of the event;

On the south wall: young naked in an orange grove that represent the three ages of man: the child lying (youth), adult standing (maturity), the bent old (old); The three characters are also an allegory of the three main occupations of the human being during his life: rest and play (the child), the love and the pleasure (the man), the work, the effort, and health (the old bent); Finally there are two women seated confidence in an orange grove, a blonde and a brunette, in the attitude and in the colors closely resemble Italy and Germany of a framework so famous, painted in 1828 by Friedrich Overbeck, himself He fell in Italy for “know the art”;

On the east wall: Interesting fresco showing the Aquarium still under construction and several people sitting around a table; They acknowledge to you (from left to right):

  • Nikolaus Kleinenberg (standing), German zoologist of Baltic origins, assistant to Dohrn Zoological Station in Naples: character cold and haughty, for his indolence in 1875 we reached the breaking of friendship and cooperation with Dohrn, who as well as estimated from the scientific point of view; nevertheless, through the intermediary of the same Dohrn, Kleinenberg was called in 1879 to the chair of zoology at Messina; He was a friend of von Marées; he died in 1897.
  • Charles Grant (seated center), English writer, dear friend of Dohrn: Jena was teacher von Marees and Hildebrand; He had no scientific knowledge but in Naples (where he stayed for about ten years) was available for different tasks and as an intermediary in the solutions of many problems that presented themselves as; He died in Graz in 1887; between his modest literary figure a “Stories of Naples and the Camorra”.
  • the same painter Hans von Marées (corner);
  • Adolf von Hildebrand (right, in profile), artist sculptor, companion and collaborator of Marées; She helped him to paint frescoes at the Zoological Station.
  • The women are a landlady and an old fishwife.

    The Turtle Point

    The group of the aquarium in 1983 was engaged in the rescue and treatment of sea turtles and a few years later, in the face of the increased number of turtles to recover came the need to create a suitable center. In September 2004, he was born in the Bagnoli Turtle Point, hospital and rehabilitation center for turtles and Exhibition Centre. The turtle point part of the “Bagnolifutura” and, in short, will be transferred to the final structure.

Copyright 2014