Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
A wonderfully quirky and very informative museum with interactive elements that could be fun for the whole family although, it may not be everyones cup of tea.
I certainly didn’t think it would be my cup of tea. Perhaps that is why I had put off visiting the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, the museum of hunting and nature for such a long time.
Now after exploring and discovering some of the 204 museums that Paris has to offer, it is one of my favourite museums.
Depicting elements of hunting and nature not only with the paraphernalia associated with the actual hunt but also all the trimmings you may or may not have expected.
The museum, housed in a glorious 1600’s mansion, spread over two floors and displayed in 15 rooms and spaces explores the various aspects of hunting.
The rooms and cabinets are mostly named after animals, for example, room of the horse, room of the wild boar and room of the wolf .
As is quite often the case with private museums in Paris, a large portion of the items were donated from a private collection. This fine museum founded in 1964 by a couple who were keen hunters and collectors, Jacqueline and François Sommer, established the foundation and museum.
Intermingled amongst the serious side of the collection are permanent and temporary installations with a humorous and contemporary element to add a bit of fun.
Something quirky, silly or funny, tucked in a corner takes you by surprise and encourages a giggle. An unexpected fox curled up on a tapestry covered chair. A film of a unicorn in the rain. A dog basket tucked away in a corner of the Salon de Chien (the dog room).
One of my favourite ironic quirks is the wonderful collection of sketches on plates. Lined up in a glass cabinet displayed with other more serious artefacts, such as, engraved brass dog whistles or snuff boxes engraved with images of a hunting scene.
From what I understand the plates are made from paper although to me, they appeared to be china. Naturally, being part of the hunting and nature collection they represent the hunt. However, this time with a sense of touché!
The roles are now reversed and it is the animal, that is hunting down the human. Fabulous! (click on images to enlarge)
Being a dog lover myself, I really enjoyed the Salon de Chien or the Room of the Dog.
Naturally, the dog played an integral part in hunting and for that reason this room is dedicated to the dog. Some of the pieces on display include enormous and elaborate collars, some engraved, or made from brass, clearly the French loved their dogs as much back then as they do now.
Other variations include large metal or leather contraptions that served to protect man’s best friend from attacks to the neck.
All of the collections displayed within the elaborately decorated rooms is vast and varied.
This is not an exhaustive list but includes; jewellery, ceramics, tapestries, paintings, furniture, trophies, guns, rifles, whistles, horns, traps, picture viewers with hunting scenes and what would have been gifts for the hunter in your life; trinkets displaying hunting scenes.
The trophy room, is somewhat confronting, with dozens of mounted heads of deers, boar and such animals, displayed on the walls with cabinets full of elaborate guns and rifles, one of the weapons responsible for the ‘trophies’ demise.
The thought of spending a night locked in this museum gave me the creeps and a slight fit of the giggles.
Animals coming back to life, pay back time!
Either way I found this museum to be fun, confronting, informative and wonderful, set out in lavish rooms and very stylishly done.
First timers to Paris understandably, will probably not have the time to visit this museum.
However, if you have visited Paris before, are hunting enthusiasts, or simply like a museum with a difference and have a couple of hours to spare whilst wandering around the Marais, this is a museum, I can certainly recommend.
take a look at this short and odd video
I couldn’t resist adding this wonderful installation, be sure to watch the shadows.
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