At the crossroads between Earth, Life and Human sciences, the Muséum focuses on nature and its relationship with the human race on a daily basis, and has done so for almost 400 years. The Muséum is steeped in history, yet at the heart of current affairs, and is also working for the future…

The Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle (French National Natural History Museum)

Five missions to learn more about nature and protect it
Environmental awareness and protecting the planet lie at the heart of contemporary debates. The Muséum is fully committed to these issues and occupies a position of reference thanks to its varied missions, which include basic and applied research, conservation and the expansion of its collections, education, expertise and the dissemination of knowledge.

The Muséum is a research centre and draws on laboratory work and worldwide expeditions, a wide range of disciplines, outstanding collections and recognised expertise. Its mission is also to share knowledge, which it does through education and dissemination activities. With a clear objective - to make knowledge about the natural world accessible to everyone and to make as many people as possible aware of the importance of protecting our planet.

Thirteen sites in France
One of the Muséum’s distinctive features is that its activity is spread over 13 sites throughout France. Its historic heart is situated in Paris, at the Jardin des Plantes, where laboratories, exhibition galleries, a zoo and educational institutions can all be found. Two other key Parisian sites must also be mentioned - the Parc Zoologique de Paris and the Musée de l’Homme (re-opened in October 2015). The remaining sites to be discovered in all four corners of France include two marine stations, an arboretum, a zoo, botanical gardens, a prehistoric excavation site and laboratories.

A bit of history
This historic institution was created in 1635. Originally a royal garden for medicinal purposes and an educational institution, it became the Natural History Muséum in 1793. For four centuries, it has been the source of major scientific discoveries in natural sciences. It has developed over the years thanks to some great minds. Buffon in the 18th century and Daubenton, Lamarck, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and Cuvier in the 19th century all provided excellent teaching, extended and studied the collections and were deeply committed to sharing their knowledge with the public.

Professions and passion
Today, many different professions exist side by side at the Muséum. Teacher-researchers hunting down knowledge to make scientific progress, taxidermists devoted to giving back power, movement and expression to specimens in the collections, gardeners rising to the challenge of growing plants from different climates in the alpine garden, electricians, carpenters, reception assistants, vets, museologists… all working with the same passion and with one single aim - to further explore and promote nature in order to protect it better.

Key figures

  • 5 missions: research, collections, education, expertise and dissemination
  • 2,200 people, including 500 researchers
  • 67 million specimens in the collections
  • 390 Masters and PhD students
  • More than 3.2 million paying visitors a year across the sites
  • 13 sites in France, including 3 in Paris: the Jardin des Plantes, the Musée de l’Homme and the Parc zoologique de Paris

Over the centuries

1635 – The Royal garden of medicinal plants created by royal decree.

1640 – Opening of the Royal garden after it had been laid out and sown; it provided free education in French (not Latin) in botany, chemistry and anatomy.

1739 – Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, was appointed intendant of the garden, a position he would occupy until his death in 1788.

10 June 1793 – The Muséum d’histoire naturelle was created by a Convention decree; it organised the teaching into 12 administrative professorships led by great scientists such as Cuvier, Jussieu, Lamarck, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, and later on Gay-Lussac, d’Orbigny, Chevreul and Becquerel…

1793 – Opening of the Ménagerie.

1841 – Opening of the Galerie de Minéralogie et de Géologie.

1889 – Opening of the Galerie de Zoologie.

1898 – Opening of the Galeries de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie comparée.

1934 – Opening of the Parc Zoologique de Paris.

1938 – Opening of the Musée de l’Homme at the Trocadéro, the former Musée d’Ethnographie which opened in 1880 and had been attached to the Muséum since 1928.

1994 – Opening of the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution, the former Galerie de Zoologie, after renovation.

2010 – Opening of the Galerie des Enfants and the Grandes Serres du Jardin des Plantes, after renovation.

2013 – Opening of the Galerie de Botanique.

2014 – Re-opening of the Parc Zoologique de Paris, after being completely renovated.

2014 – Re-opening of the Galerie de Minéralogie et de Géologie.

2015 – Re-opening of the Musée de l’Homme, after being completely renovated.