The Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie (National Museum of Natural History) was a museum on the Rapenburg in Leiden, the Netherlands. It was founded in 1820 by Royal Decree from a merger of several existing collections. This happened on the initiative of Coenraad Jacob Temminck, who saw the museum primarily as a research institute for the University of Leiden. The total collection was already quite large at the time, and continued to grow from foreign expeditions and by obtaining private collections from inheritances. The location is currently used by the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden.
The location was originally a hofje called Hof van Zessen. In 1815 plans were made to build a museum there (the first building called a "museum" in Leiden). It opened in 1820, and until 1913, the museum normally opened to the public on Sundays. In 1913, the museum moved to a new building, with very little room available for exhibits, and in 1950, this room was also closed. After that, there were a few opportunities for guided tours, attending lectures, and temporary exhibitions.
In 1976, a paper, "Towards a New Museum", was produced. This led to the museum taking on more of a central curating role, lending pieces from its collection to other museums. The Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie and the Rijksmuseum van Geologie en Mineralogie merged in 1984. A permanent public exhibition was still not present. That came in 1986, when the so-called "National Presentation" in the field of natural history was commissioned by the Dutch government. Planning began for a new building, which was completed in 1990 and launched in 1998 as "Naturalis".