Management and preservation of the collections

A genuine nature library! The Muséum manages, develops and makes accessible one of the three largest natural history collections in the world, in its parks and gardens, and in its drawers, boxes, jars, cupboards, safes and freezers.

The Earth’s memory
Listed and stowed away along kilometres of shelving and drawers, a whole host of resources document the history of our world and are carefully preserved by the institution. The nature collections are made up of animals, plants, rocks and minerals, meteorites, fossils and skeletons, prehistoric, anthropological and ethnological objects.
The document, archival and artistic collections serve as a reference for natural and life sciences and their history.

Natural treasures
The Muséum’s national Herbarium is the largest in the world with 8 million samples. As for the insect collection, it includes 40 million specimens. The vertebrates collection is famous for its many type specimens (voucher specimens which mark the existence of these species) and includes the only representatives of species which are now extinct. The geology collections are of great historical value, featuring rocks, minerals and meteorites. The zoos and botanical gardens are home to a large number of species which are living, but often endangered. In addition to that, there are the treasures of one of the richest natural sciences libraries in the world, which houses monographs, periodicals, maps, photographs, manuscripts, prints and objects and works of art including the Muséum’s famous vellum collection.

Research tools
Living or not, rare or widespread, the specimens and documentary resources in the Muséum’s collections are often unique. A memory of nature’s diversity, they are its archives and harbour precious information for understanding life on Earth. As well as being curious, cultural objects for the general public, these collections are also aids for scientific study. Considered as a huge research infrastructure, they are an excellent tool for researchers all over the world.

Key figures

68 million specimens in the natural history collections
800,000 type specimens
2.2 million documents in the libraries including books, periodicals, reprints, maps, manuscripts, archives, prints, drawings, photographs and works of art and collectables.