Many reasons: the objects in the naturalist collections offer everyone the chance to discover our world in a sensitive yet rational way.
An aid for sharing scientific culture
For the general public, the most obvious purpose of the collections is exhibiting: the specimens are shown to the public at permanent or temporary exhibitions. The objects are displayed and help to convey a cultural and educational message. The Muséum’s collections are a tool for scientific culture; they can be (and are) consulted by people from all walks of life. They help to promote the dissemination of knowledge. A range of document production and lending activities are associated with them (public conferences, interviews and general interest articles, books for the general public). The internet now enables us to organise the information contained in the collections and share it with researchers, even those outside of France.
A teaching aid
The collections are also used directly by the teaching profession. They help to make children aware of biodiversity, the dialectic of the uniqueness of DNA despite the diversity of the living world, and the issues and challenges of sustainable management, as early on in their education as possible. As the first mission set out in the founding decree of the National Convention in 1793, the Muséum’s teaching purpose is unique in being aimed at all audiences, mainly relying on teachers who are themselves involved in research, and contributing directly to improving the knowledge being taught. Over 200 lecturers and professors, amongst others, are in charge of this mission.
An aid for expertise, fundamental and applied research
The Muséum preserves objects whose historical value gives them renewed scientific interest. These are heritage objects that the passing of time has rendered priceless and irreplacable, like the objects that featured in the King’s Cabinet. The collected objects are above all a basis for the work of the scientific community at the Muséum and throughout the world. The collections provide evidence of biodiversity and geodiversity for ecological or environmental studies. They are also used to help identify a plant, an animal, a rock, etc. The collections are a vast resource for taxonomic expertise. The zoology specimens, for example, are used for research in such varied areas as systematics, ecology, anatomy and functional morphology, biogeography and the evolution of fauna, etc.