Grande Galerie de l’Évolution
Open every day, except Tuesdays
They don't speak, but they tell you everything about life. They are the 7,000 specimens in the Grande Galerie de l'Évolution. A mythical place opened in 1994, where modernity meets history and science to tell the story of the great adventure of biodiversity.
Larger than life: “Revivre”, (Revival) extinct animals in augmented reality
A great surprise is waiting for you in the endangered and extinct species room of the Grande Galerie de l'Évolution (Gallery of Evolution). This new augmented reality journey brings back to life several specimens that are unique in the world. Don’t miss this fun and instructive event. Alone, with your family or friends, it’s your choice!
On the ground floor, three marine mammal skeletons welcome you: the southern right whale, the blue whale and the sperm whale are gigantic. Further on, Wheke, the giant squid, spreads its tentacles. Around you, schools of tuna and mackerel lurk. You have entered the world of silence. See how life flourishes in the darkness of the abyss, how the coral reefs are built, how the species of the coastline live to the rhythm of the tides and the light.
From one land to another
Terrestrial species also adapt. On the first level, the elephant leads the caravan of animals from the African savannah. The large mammals and their predators follow suit. Buffalo, hartebeest, wildebeest, giraffe and zebra, hyenas, wild dogs, lions and cheetahs: guess who eats whom.
After the savannah, we head for South America. Among the tenants of the high metal sculpture that recreates the layering of the rainforest, you may recognise them: below, tapir, anteater, armadillo, anaconda and jaguar; higher up, in the canopy, sloth, blue macaw and margay cat.
The journey continues in other latitudes. Everything seems to distinguish the Saharan fauna (dromedary, gazelle and sand fox) from that of the Arctic or Antarctic (polar bear, emperor penguin and harp seal). Except for their extreme living conditions!
The adventure of evolution
In the upper balconies, you will learn more about the diversity of species. How do we do this? By discovering the history of living organisms and the adventure of the naturalists who have deciphered it. This is the time to look into the secrets revealed by the observation and study of anatomy, fossils and molecules. Get to know Lamarck, Darwin and Mendel. Learn essential notions to understand the mechanisms of life: the theory of evolution, the laws of genetics, the links of kinship or the classification of species...
And what about Mankind?
Mankind’s hold on nature is punctuated by technical developments that modify ways of eating or traveling: hunting and gathering, fishing, domestication of animals, modification of landscapes, pollution, etc. From the moment man first appeared, the changes are measured in tens rather than millions as in geological time. The second level of the Gallery of Evolution encourages you to think about the conservation of nature.
This reflection continues into room full of poignancy, that of the threatened and extinct species. The giant panda described and sent to Paris by Father David in the 19th century has found a place here. This "big bear-cat", as the Chinese call it, forms, along with another specimen from the Museum the model type of its species Ailuropoda melanoleuca, the world reference for scientists! And though the Tasmanian tiger - a marsupial that looks like a wolf - has disappeared, the Sumatran tiger can still be saved...
A mythical place
The Gallery has also undergone many changes and since 2014 has been welcoming you under a naturalistic light and sound ambience, that of a day in the savannah, from dawn to dusk, crossed by a violent storm, animal cries and buzzing insects. The magic of the place created by Jules André in 1889 remains intact: an immense “nave”, surrounded by three balconies, lit by a 1,000 m² glass roof, bears witness to the metal architecture of the time. Cast iron and glass mixed with woodwork are combined with modern equipment: LEDs, screens, to better enhance the restored collections. The monumental staircases are now accessible and hold many surprises: models, statues, busts and even tombs...
The museological revolution
For its reopening in 1994, the Gallery of Evolution underwent a complete transformation. Renovated by the architects and scenographers Borja Huidobro, Paul Chemetov and René Allio, the magnificent space is full of emotion. With a completely redesigned museological approach, the collections now carry an essential message: diversity is the result of the long evolution of living organisms in a multiplicity of environments that we must preserve. This idea is sure to stay in your mind after your visit. Don't forget to pass it on and apply it when you leave...
How to find us
36 rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire
36 rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire