The Natural History Department of the
Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum Innsbruck
and its shell collection.

by Helmut Nisters, Innsbruck, Austria


Having been founded on 13 May 1823, the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum Innsbruck owns a rich art collection with an important gallery of local and foreign paintings, but it also hoasts remarkable collections, both historical and of natural science.

The natural science section deals with zoology, mineralogy, geology and botany, but undoubtedly its main emphasis lies in entomology. In fact the Museum owns the largest and most complete collection of alpine butterflies and mothes (about 500.000 - 600.000 specimens, including many types) and a very rich collection of Coleoptera (400.000 - 500.000) Also of importance are the collection of mounted birds and mammals, mainly from the modern and historical Tyrol, and those of of mineralogy and geology, with several thousand items. As for the botanical patrimony of the Museum, its approximately 350.000 items document a collecting activity that began early in the 17th century and has continued almost without interruption until today.

The Museum’s library contains a vast array of books, magazines and articles of natural science dealing with insects, mammals, birds, minerals and plants, but unhappily it is very modest in the field of malacology. This is mainly because of the Museum’s traditional relation with the world of entomology which has continously brought in important donations, whereas it’s malacological activity is only quite recent. Therefore I always am looking for literature if somebody would have available for the sector of malacology.

But let us turn to the Museum’s shell collection. It was originally based on the personal collections of Carl Biasioli, pupil and friend of the most famous Tirolean malacologist Vinzenz Maria Gredler, a Franciscan friar, and Handel-Mazzetti. In 1972 Karl Burmann, a wellknown entomologist of the Tiroler Landesmuseum, asked and my mother, Dr. Irmgard Nisters, now aged 88 years (born 18 th August 1911), to occupy herself with the revision of Biasioli’s collection which had just been discovered, unrevised, in the Museum’storage rooms.

In the same year the Museum’s shell collection was transferred to the basement of the Zeughaus, an annex of the Tiroler Landesmuseum, where it’s systematic reorganization was begun with alacrity. Unfortunately, on 6 August 1985, that basement was flooded with almost 50 inches of water by the river Sill and the scientific collections kept there were seriously damaged. However between 1985 and 1993, all the collections found a new provisional setting at the old University in order to permit scientific studies on them to be resumed.

In October 1993, the new rooms at Innsbruck’s Feldstrasse 11a were inaugurated, with the precise aim of giving a definitive location to the collections and the corresponding labs and offices. Since 1980, I have worked alongside my mother as volunteer to enlarge and improve the malacological collection of the Museum. In order to make up for the great losses caused by the flood, we both have made several excursions in the Tyrol and Northern Italy (mainly in the provinces of Alto Adige (South-Tyrol) (Bolzano), Trento, Vicenza, Verona, Brescia and Bergamo) and have received conspicuous donations of both continental and Mediterranean seashells from malacologists, private collectors and dealers from Europe and the whole world. The malacological collection of the Museum is now well curated in rational metal drawers according to the most modern techniques. The filing of the species has been completed and recently also the entering into a database which makes any kind of research enormously easier.

The collection now contains land and fresh-water shells from Europe and marine shells from the Mediterranean and European seas for a total of about 2.500 species (together with the exotic species about 3.500). The main purpose of the Ferdinandeum is to study the natural patrimony of the Alps and Europe, but we are now expanding the field to enclude the exotic malacofauna..

As I told before the shell collection was enriched by generous and valuable donations and interesting tradings, especially on the marine sector. I seize this occasion to express my warmest gratitude to all those who have helped us with their contributes since the flooding catastrophe from 1985:

Aiken Simon, Almera-Planas Jose, Amsler Ulrich, Asslaber Robert, Baade Hartmut, Baba Karoly, Bagnera Giuseppe, Bankston Cecil, Bartole Domenico, Battagin Aldo, Battaglia Martha, Bazzocchi Piero, Beckmann Karl-Heinz, Bellagamba Mariella, Bellocq Marthe, Bethke Mark & Peta, Bev & Neal (Showcase Shells), Bini Gianluigi, Bogi Cesari, Botanisch-Zoologische-Gesellschaft FL,Sargans (Trüb Hans), Bourquin Avril, Braccia Antonio, Brancato Aldo, Brandstetter Clemens, Brombo L., Bros Vincenz, Brown Lenni, Bruno Luigi, Bryan Nora, Cachia Charles, Cadamuro-Morgante Gino, Capici Andrea, Carrozza Ferdinando, Cesari Paolo, Chan Donald (Molluscs.Net), Cheshire James, Cirella Aurelio, Colombara Franco, Coltro José and Marcus (from Femorale), Conch-Republic (durch Konsul Harald Schlegel), Coppini Manrico, Coraggio Luigi, Corley David, Couto Lutz (from Femorale), Crovato Paolo, Cuomo Mario, De Mattia Willy, Del Moro Vinicio, Demertzis Maria & Peter (Aegean Shells), Deynzer Al, Di Massa Duilio, Di Nisio Antonio, Eaton Lawrence, Edlinger Karl (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien), Egerton Peter, Egorov Roman, Eichhorst Thomas, Einarsson Pall, Eröss Zoltan Peter, Falchi Stefano & Iacono Vicenzo & Miari Ermanno, Fasulo Giuseppe, Fauer Wolfgang, Fermin Ramirez, Ferreri Dario, Fischer Wolfgang, Forner Monica, Forstner Michael, Foster Bob (Abbey Shells), Frank Krisztina, Franziskanergymnasium Hall in Tirol, Freitag Bernd, Gaglini Angela, Garcia Emilio, Ghisotti Ferdinando, Giannuzzi-Savelli Riccardo, Giovine Ferdinando, Girgenti Antonio, Gittenberger Edmund, Giudice Angelo, Giusti Francesco, Goldberg Richard (Worldwide Specimen Shells), Goulandris Natural History Museum Kifissia (Vardala-Theodorou Evi), Greotti Piero, Grosselli Luciano, Hallgass Alessandro, Haspeslagh Jan, Hebrew University Jerusalem (Mienis Henk), Heimatmuseum Kufstein (via Lehmann Gerhard), Hognerud Jennifer, Hopfinger Oskar, Huerta-Carreto Enrique, Ilinois Natural History Survey (Cummings S. Kevin), Jacobs Christel (Australian Specimen Shells), Jungbluth Jürgen, Kierdorf-Traut Georg, Kittel Klaus, Knodel Ulrich, Kofler Alois, Kohl Martin, Kolouch Lubos, Kroupa Oldrich, Kühnelt Wilhelm, Lawson Mariah, Lawson Tom, Lazzari Giorgio, Leiss Ulf, Letico Salvatore & Mannocci Roberto, Lindner Gert, Liuzzi Giuseppe, Mahavier Bill, Mano Susumo, Mayhew Ross (Schooner Specimen Shells), Micali Pasquale, Mifsud Constantine, Monfils Paul, Monsecour David, Morass Peter, Museo Civico di Storia Naturale Udine (Giovanelli Manuela), Museo Regionale Science Naturali Torino (Gavetti Elena), Müller Dieter, Nardi Giuseppe, Nardi Natale, National Museum Taichung, Natural History Museum Bern (Gosteli Margret), Natural History Museum Bucuresti (Grossu Alexandru), Natural History Museum Budapest (Drimmer Laszlo Pinter Laszlo), Natural History Museum Goeteborg (Walden Henrik, Proschwitz Ted), Nesemann Hasko, Neuffer RoseSea, Niero Ivano, Nofroni Italo, Noli Marco, Orlandini Massimo, Orlando Vittorio Emanuele, Otero Jose Maria Hernandez, Pace Stefano, Palmeri Alberto, Parenzan Pietro, Parker George, Perini Loris e Gruppo Naturalisti Linneo, Pirozzi Nicola, Poli Dario, Portolatina Marco, Powers Jr., Prodan Massimo, Pusateri Francesco, Quaggiotto Erminio, Racz Helen (Showcase from Uruguay), Ragozzi Armando, Raines Bret (previous owner of Molluscs.Net), Ramazotti Domenico, Rawlingson Plant Dominic, Reina Michele, Renda Walter, Repetto Giovanni, Ricordi Piero, Rosa Remo, Rähle Wolfgang (University Tuebingen), Sammut Paul, Sangiouloglou George, Sanz J. R., Schmidt Christa, Schubbe Scott, Schwenninger Hans, Scott Mark (Neptune Sea Shells), Seidl Fritz, Seminar Johanneum Dorf Tirol-Suedtirol (ex coll. Schrott Florian durch Dir. Kollmann Josef), Sosso Maurizio, Sparacio Ignazio, Springer Mel, Stratmann Dirk, Stummer A. & B., Subai Peter, Swinnen Frank, Tan Siong Kiat, Taylor Mary (Broken Siphon), Terzer Gianluigi, The Australian Museum Sidney (Rudman Bill), Toscano Francesco, Turella Laura & Paula, Turner Hans, Tuttle Sam, van Aartsen Jacobus, Van den Berghe Roger, VanderVen Karen, Vazzana Angelo, Vilella-Tejeda Emanuel, Villa Raimondo, Villari Alberto, Villari Carmelo, Vinzentinum Brixen (durch Dir. Rainer Paul), Walker Frank (Gems from the Sea), Wolff John, Wu Min-Han, Wüthrich Max, Yoshimoto Dan, Zambakides Takis, Zoological Institute of the Academy of Science St. Petersburg, Zoological Institute of the University Zuerich (Mair Trudi), Zoological Museum of the University Tel Aviv (Barash Alexander)

Some nice and beautiful shells of the museums collection

Perotrochus westralis

Patella nigra
Haliotis scalaris
Patella granatina

Clanculus puniceus

Angaria delphinus melanacantha
Angaria sphaerula
Angaria vicdani
Angaria neglecta

Tibia fusus fusus

Lambis violacea
Strombus listeri
Strombus sinuatus

Cypraea tigris
Cypraea mappa
Cypraea pantherina

Cypraea aurantium

Cypraea fultoni

Cypraea guttata
Cypraea porteri

Cypraea hesitata
Cypraea armeniaca
Cypraea hesitata

Cypraea tessellata

Colubraria souverbii
Cancellaria lyrata
Trigonostoma pellucidum

Siratus alabaster

Epitonium scalare
Amaea ferminiana
Cirsostrema varicosa

Cymbiola nobilis
Scaphella junonia
Teramachia dupreyae
Amoria (Cymbiolista) hunteri
Cymbiola pulchra
Amoria ellioti

Conus geographus
Conus textile
Oliva porphyria

Conus bengalensis
Conus milneedwardsi
Conus gloriamaris

Conus dusaveli
Conus genuanus
Conus bullatus

Architectonica trochlearis
Thatcheria mirabilis

a view into the drawer with Conidae

the show-case in the malacological
collection room

Pecten jacobaeus (middle)
Pecten keppelianus (left)
Pecten diegensis (right)

Chlamys glabra

Aequipecten opercularis

Chlamys delicatula

Chlamys (Cryptopecten) pallium (middle)
Argopecten gibbus (middle left)
Pecten (?) flabellum (middle right)
Chlamys hastata hericea (middle)

Lyropecten subnodosus

Placopecten magellanicus

view into a drawer with Pectinidae

Hinnites (Crassadoma) giganteus / multirugosus

Malleus malleus (middle)
Lopha cristagalli

Chama lazarus (yellow)
Spondylus regius (left)
Spondylus americanus (right)

Cardium hians

Dinocardium robustum vanhyningi

Hippopus hippopus (left)
Tridacna sqquamosa (right)

Tellina (tenuis) exigua

Tellina planata
Tellina nitida

Solecurtus strigillatus
Pharus legumen
Solecurtus scopula

Glossus humanus

Callista chione

Cyrtopleura costata

Photos: Wolfgang Sölder, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum



Helmut Nisters contact details (work and home).

Natural History Department of the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum Innsbruck,
Malacological Collection,
Feldstr. 11a,
A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria, Europe.
Phone: 0043 512 58 72 86 37.
Helmut Nisters
Franz-Fischer-Str. 46
A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria, Europe
Phone and Fax: 0043 512 57 32 14