Documentary, archival and artistic collections

The Muséum’s libraries’ collections document every stage in the natural history research cycle, from the first field notes and observations to the dissemination of the scientific results.


These collections are mainly for scientific, educational and museographic purposes and come in all types - manuscripts, scientific and institutional archives, plans, drawings, prints, photographs, geographical maps, printed books and journals, electronic resources, works of art, scientific instruments and objects. They cover all the domains of natural history sciences and humanities. The wealth and diversity of these two million or so documents position the Muséum’s libraries among the largest natural science libraries in the world.


Back when it was known as the Jardin du roi (the King’s garden), the Cabinet already contained books and manuscripts by scholars and artists which were accessible to the Jardin’s staff and the public. During the French Revolution, the Muséum’s founding decree (in 1793) established it as a public library housing the collections of the Cabinet du roi (King’s Cabinet), copies from the Bibliothèque royale (Royal Library) and natural history books confiscated during the Revolution.

The Muséum’s libraries’ collections were enhanced, as the various chairs were created, with the documentation needed for the establishment’s scientific activity. The Muséum’s growing reputation attracted donations from many private funds, bequeathed to the libraries by former professors or research associates. They left their work, research notes, libraries, documents brought back from expeditions, manuscripts of great scientific works, etc. The collections were expanded through procurements, gifts and donations throughout the 20th century and continue to grow today, notably with the recent contribution of electronic resources.

These collections are available to researchers, amateurs and all interested audiences in the different reading rooms of the Muséum’s libraries, and they can also be accessed at distance via a dedicated website which makes it possible to consult the digital library catalogues and electronic resources. The collections are also regularly presented to the public during the exhibitions organised at the Muséum or at other cultural institutions.

Contact and means of consultation

You can find further information on our collections in our online catalogues: catalogue Calames (archives and old collections)
catalogue Muscat (printed materials)
catalogue des revues et livres électroniques

The conditions for consulting these collections can be found on the Muséum libraries website.

Notes de bas de page