The Muséum is open to all. Scientists, students, schoolchildren and lovers of nature have access to its collections, to satisfy their curiosity or to help with research.

For the general public: education and excitement
Part of the stock or collections is open to the general public, who are finding the natural sciences increasingly interesting. Children and adults from France and abroad learn about the collections through the various permanent or temporary exhibitions. Collection specimens shed light on a topic or demonstration and the aim is to appeal to the public: there is an element of fantasy and imagination in the presentation of the historical objects. Neither a photo nor a video can faithfully recreate the three- dimensional impact of the real thing. It is essential give the public access to real samples, which convey meaning and emotion. This is the case if they are illustrating an important idea, like in the extinct species room in the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution.

Working with researchers: a reserve of knowledge
An estimated 68 million specimens in the Muséum’s collections are made available to researchers. Each year, over a thousand scientists handle anything from a few dozen to hundreds of thousands of the institution’s objects (including objects on loan). They also sometimes visit the Muséum’s back rooms, where the many reserves can be found. One of them, the Zoothèque, which contains only a small proportion of the zoology collections, covers 20,000 m3 and is filled with miscellaneous objects, stored on 40 km of shelving! These collections form the basis of the classificatory analysis which rationalises nature and man and leads to phylogeny, the evolutionary history of living things. They are also used for research in all areas of the natural sciences and as a reference for expert appraisals, whether it’s identifying an object for a curious passer-by, taking an inventory of an area’s diversity for a government, or even providing an expert appraisal for legal purposes.