Museum National d’histoire Naturelle
This museum would have to be the most spectacular and stylishly arranged natural history museum in the world.
Slip away from the busy Parisian streets and into a sanctuary of grand proportions.
Be prepared for ‘wow’ to escape your lips and to be awestruck and dazzled as you enter this tranquil and informative museum.
What you won’t find here is hoards of tourists lining up for hours to enter. Instead, you will find young, well behaved children, dwarfed by giant elephants, sharks and zebras, learning about the wonders of life as their parents marvel at their excitement.
You may observe students as they quietly sketch a kangaroo or the detail of a tiger’s paw, crouched on the floor in concentration.
The ambient lighting, the magnificent building and the thoughtfully curated displays sets this museum apart from others.
Personally, I enjoyed the entire experience from the moment I entered the grand old building.
The magnificent glass ceiling changes colour and the bank of orange light cleverly blocks out natural light to protect the specimens but at the same time offers a wonderful visual feast with captivating silhouettes as patrons explore.
With no line up, I breezed straight in.
The security staff, noting that I had a camera tucked inside my bag, advised me of their no flash policy. I went straight to the counter, bought my ticket and let myself in via a turnstile.
Practical and efficient. It was that simple.
The National Museum of Natural History is actually made up of 14 buildings around France, four of them, located in Paris with three of them in close proximity to one another, within the Jardin des Plantes:
The Gallery of Mineralogy and Geology, The Gallery of Comparative Anatomy and Paleontology, which was thrown into the lime light in 2010 with the release of the movie; The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, inspired by the 1970’s graphic novels. If you have seen the movie you will remember the opening scene of a pterodactyl egg hatching and the bird escaping through the magnificent glass roof.
The Great Hall of Evolution.
It does not consist of boring aisles of glass cases displaying specimens but a dramatic stampede of stuffed animals.
A small elephant nestled beside a larger elephant leading the pack, followed by the likes of rhinos, giraffes, deer, birds flying overhead and small dung beetles.
The museum, four storeys high within with elaborate wrought iron balconies overlooking the grand parade of animals offers views from all angles.
Dinosaur bones suspended from the ceiling makes for a great entrance.
The marine life on the lower level shows the wonders of the underwater world and will no doubt plant seeds to inspire a new generation of our future marine biologists.
As I often find with museums in Paris, they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously; a little humour, a little quirk here and there can be found.
For example, this giraffe poking his head over the fourth floor balcony, peering down onto the stampede, as if to ask … what is going on down there!
I found this museum, not only interesting for it’s exhibits but also for it’s grand and innovative transformation of an ancient building to suit the purpose, of a permanent exhibition, yet still respecting the architecture.
If you are interested in design, architecture, lighting or natural history, you are bound to find this museum of interest.
If you have young children and want to escape long lines of tourists at the popular galleries and museums, Museum National d’histoire Naturelle should be near the top of your list when visiting Paris.
The museum is situated in Le Jardin des Plantes, now known as the main botanical gardens of Paris, covering 28 hectares but in the 1600’s, was known as the Kings Gardens famous for it’s medicinal herbs.
The pretty surrounding greenhouses attract local green thumbs and are also worth visiting.
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