The Museum first began in a classroom in the old schoolhouse (Vieux-Collège, Rue du Collège 6), bringing together various collections and documents (history, fine arts and natural sciences) under the aegis of the Chamber of Education. Pharmacist Célestin Nicolet was the museum’s first curator.
he museum relocated to Rue du Collège 9.
The collections were transferred to three rooms at the engineering college (Collège industriel, Rue du Progrès 33) on the site of the current library.
The collections were broken down by type. The birth of a genuine Natural History Museum, still attached to the college. First credit granted by the municipality. Édouard Stébler served as curator until 1914.
The Development Society acquired the grounds of the Bois du Petit-Château from the local shooting club, (Société de tir les Armes-Réunies), with a view to transforming it into a public park. They commissioned landscape gardener Charles Mattern to design and complete this work.
The park was donated to the public. The municipality was responsible for its upkeep. The public park then became an animal park, gradually building up its livestock to around a hundred animals (birds, farmyard animals and several deer) in 1940.
Gym instructor Edouard Stauffer served as curator. In 1918, the museum formed its own committee.
For many years, the museum had been running low on space. When Dr. Monard returned from his expedition to Angola in Africa, the museum faced a pressing problem. The municipality made use of the vast space on the second storey of the main post office leased from the Post, Telegraph and Telephone company (PTT). The museum stopped its school activities and became a public museum.
Dr. Monard received a proposal from the City to relocate the museum to the Ancien-Stand. He refused, arguing that, after having relocated the museum to the Post Office building, he did not want to start again elsewhere. Dr. Albert Monard was the curator of the Natural History Museum in La Chaux-de-Fonds from 1920 to 1952.
With a view to expanding the park, plans were made to relocate to the Gallet park. However, this project never came to fruition, owing to lack of finances.
The Development Society was dissolved and replaced by the “Bois du Petit-Château Development and Maintenance Committee”.
Philippe Bourquin was appointed director of the museum. He sadly passed away two months later and Villy Aellen took over.
Villy Aellen was appointed director of the Natural History Museum in Geneva and Willy Lanz took over the directorship of the Natural History Museum in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The museum had to relocate to another wing in the Post Office building.
The museum in the Post Office building was fully renovated and new dioramas were created.
The animal park became a zoological park with the introduction of many species. Over time, the livestock numbered around 600 animals. The park aims to give visitors the opportunity to see animals which are, or once were, part of the regional fauna.
Following lengthy discussions, the vivarium was taken over by the City and located on the Bois du Petit-Château site with the construction of five pavilions.
Marcel S. Jacquat was appointed director of the museum. Before taking on the directorship, Jacquat had been a secondary school teacher of natural sciences and had worked at the museum for many years on a casual basis.
The zoo/animal park celebrated its centenary.
The Zoo, Vivarium and Natural History Museum are brought together as the Zoological Institutions (ZI). The committee is dissolved.
The City council asked the curator of the Natural History Museum in La Chaux-de-Fonds to consider the possibility of relocating the museum to the Ancien-Stand.
2004 - 2016
Several projects are researched but none come to fruition. In preparation for its relocation, the museum is closed to the public from July 2014.
Arnaud Maeder, Dr. sc. nat., took over from Marcel S. Jacquat.
Xavier Huther became interim director. A new project was undertaken; this consisted of renovating the Ancien-Stand building to house the museum and developing the Bois du Petit-Château.
On 27 November 2018, the General Council unanimously approved the credit request application to renovate the Ancien-Stand building to house the Natural History Museum.
From February 2019, Nicolas Margraf, Dr. sc. nat., became curator of the Natural History Museum of La Chaux-de-Fonds and director of the museum sections of the Zoological Institutions, while Yasmine Ponnampalam headed the zoological section.
A new enclosure for Asian small-clawed otters was opened.
The new MUZOO site is set to open.