Key meteoritic collections
The meteorite collection of the Natural History Museum of Vienna has the longest history of all comparable collections in the world. In the second half of the 18th century, soon after the foundation of the Imperial Natural History Cabinet in 1748, the Viennese curators began to collect meteorites. Owing to the efforts and scientific interest in meteorites of Carl von Schreibers (1775–1852) and his successors the Vienna collection became the largest and most extensive in the course of the 19th century. Simultaneously, the collection and its curators became one of the centres of the newly established science of meteoritics. The outbreak of the First World War and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy brought all these research activities and the growth of the collections at the Viennese museum to an abrupt end. Modest activities between the world wars were interrupted by the onset of the Second World War, again leading to a complete halt. It was not before the late 1960s that the situation improved and a budget for purchases permitted the acquisition of select contemporary meteorite falls and finds. From then on, the meteorites in the collection had again been used intensively for research purposes. Up until the end of the year 2003, the meteorite collection had increased to a total of 2336 localities.