Jurassica Museum

Our collections’ history


Below is a brief history of JURASSICA’s natural science collections (formerly belonging to the École Centrale de Porrentruy, Collège de Porrentruy, École Cantonale, Lycée Cantonal and, finally, Jura Natural Science Museum [MJSN])



Eberstein Collection

When Christian Franz von Eberstein (1719-1797), provost of Basel Minster, began collecting scientific objects for his cabinet of curiosities, little did he know that one day they would be seized by the French to teach science in what would become École Centrale de Porrentruy. All of JURASSICA’s collections trace their origins back to this embryonic collection. Forgotten for almost 200 years, it was not until March 2004 that this collection was rediscovered following an enquiry from a scholar.


Thurmann Collection

Jules Thurmann (1804-1855) was appointed by the Collège de Porrentruy to bring back scientific teaching to the school. He oversaw the creation of the botanical garden and also began a collection of rocks, fossils and minerals for his newly founded geology and mineralogy company. The specimens from his collection form the bedrock of the museum’s palaeontology collection.


Frédéric-Louis Koby Collection

Frédéric-Louis Koby was born in 1852 in Delémont and died in 1930 in Porrentruy. After studying natural sciences at the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, he was appointed teacher and rector at the École Cantonale de Porrentruy, as well as director of the Botanical Garden. He is best known for his geological and palaeontological research, much of which was on Jurassic and Cretaceous coral from the Jura mountain range. Over half of the fossils in the Museum’s historical collection were found by Frédéric-Louis Koby.


Scheurer Collection

Gustave Adolphe Scheurer (1818-1892) was a French industrialist born in Colmar. Obsessed with science and culture, he had a particular fascination for geology, mineralogy and archaeology. Scheurer travelled widely in the Jura and neighbouring mountain ranges, building a large geological collection. Impressed by the Collège de Porrentruy’s reputation, he cultivated contacts at the school, including Jules Thurmann. Maurice Scheurer, Gustave Adolphe’s grandson, donated his grandfather’s mineral and geological collection to the École Cantonale in around 1950, on the condition that a museum be created in Porrentruy. That promise was honoured almost 40 years later.



Frédéric-Edouard Koby Collection

Frédéric-Édouard Koby (1890-1969) was born in Porrentruy. The son of Frédéric-Louis Koby, an ophthalmologist, he nurtured a passion for speleology and palaeontology, which he indulged by excavating chasms and caves in the Jura region. He built a large collection of Quaternary fossil remains, a significant number of which are connected with cave bears. Koby put together much of JURASSICA’s Quaternary collection, including the Saint-Brais cave collection.


Juillerat Collection

Edmond Juillerat was born in 1909 in Porrentruy and died in 2000 in the same town. As a qualified forest engineer, he is best known for his work in mycology. Juillerat, with a view to protecting the Jura’s natural habitats, surveyed them every week and collected fungal specimens, which he brought to the Lycée Cantonal. The acquisition of a freeze dryer in 1982 enabled the institution to build a collection of almost 1,500 mushrooms comprising over 700 different species.



Montavon Collection

André Montavon was born in Cœuve, Switzerland in 1919 and died in Besançon, France in 1994. After joining the French resistance in 1942, he was arrested by the Gestapo in Besançon in 1943 and sentenced to death. Fortunately, Montavon’s Swiss nationality and the intervention of his family spared him execution and his sentence was commuted to deportation. He was sent to Neuengamme concentration camp in Germany where he remained until its liberation by the Allies. After the war, Montavon worked as a teacher. He travelled widely, amassing a large collection of butterflies from all over the world, including hundreds of tropical species. His butterfly collection was donated to the Jura Natural Science Museum (MSJN) by his widow in 1994. The Montavon collection numbers around 6,000 specimens.


Kauffmann Collection

Porrentruy native, Henri-Paul Kauffmann, spent over 10 years living and working in Asia, mostly in Hong Kong and Singapore. Passionate about seashells, he frequently toured the ports and markets of South-East Asia in search of specimens. Keen to preserve it for posterity, Kauffmann and his wife gifted their seashell collection to the MSJN in 2003. The collection contains 204 species of the Cypraea genus and 176 species of the Conus genus, as well as 79 related species.


Collège de Delémont Collection

In the 19th century, like many educational institutions at the time, the Collège de Delémont kept a collection of rocks, minerals and fossils for teaching purposes. Teachers with an interest in Earth sciences added to this collection, as did geologist Jean-Baptiste Greppin as he gathered material to create a geological map of the region. This collection was subsequently preserved and maintained with care by the natural science teachers, particularly Joseph Rérat. In 2004, following negotiations led by André Latérali, head of the school’s collections at the time, it was decided to donate the collection to the MJSN.


Transjurane Collection

Numerous discoveries were made during construction of the A16 motorway, generating much media and scientific attention and raising local people's awareness of their rich regional heritage. The Cantonal Culture Office’s A16 Palaeontology Team conducted excavations along the motorway route from 2001 onwards, amassing a geological and palaeontological collection of some 45,000 specimens. It includes all the dinosaur footprints and tracks found during construction of the motorway, a significant number of Jurassic vertebrate and invertebrate fossils, and Cenozoic specimens from the Delémont region of the Molasse Basin and the Ajoie dolines. Following the closure of the Cantonal Culture Office’s Palaeontology Department in 2018, all its collections and associated scientific documentation were given to JURASSICA.



Fankhauser Collection

Porrentruy-native Claude Fankhauser has a passion for the natural sciences. Over the past 35 years, he has gathered hundreds of fossils, rocks, insects and mushrooms in the Ajoie region. Each specimen has been inventoried and many are also accompanied by detailed information on where and when they were found, adding real scientific value to the collection's obvious heritage significance. In 2023, Mr Fankhauser decided to give his 1,300-specimen collection to JURASSICA.


Reser Collection

Hungarian-born Ladislaus Reser is a retired entomologist and renowned butterfly expert based in Lucerne. Since 2006, he has continued his research work, gathering specimens in the Canton of Jura to study the local moth biodiversity. He has also built a large insect collection that has been cited frequently in scientific publications. Once his research project concludes in 2025, Mr Reser’s collection, comprising over 45,000 specimens, will be donated JURASSICA.

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