What is the Muséum?

Does the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle evoke for you fascinating dinosaur skeletons or luxurious vegetation in immense glasshouses? Although our institution does house such treasures, it is much more varied than that...

The Muséum is a true centre of scientific excellence, studying the Earth and Life from the most distant past to the current day, and raising questions about our future. Thus, we share our knowledge while working to ensure the preservation of our biodiversity and heritage, both natural and cultural. Around 2,500 collaborators, researchers, care-takers, librarians, taxidermists, curators, engineers, veterinarians, museologists, etc., are working relentlessly within our walls and in the field.

The epic saga of knowledge

The adventure started in 1635 at the Jardin royal des plantes médicinales (Royal Garden of Medicinal Plants), as the Muséum was formerly known. At this time, enthusiasts started bringing species back from their travels to analyse and compare so as to enrich a nascent heritage. Some of their names have gone down in posterity, such as the naturalists Buffon, Cuvier and Lamarck. Over time, new disciplines were developed, such as chemistry, which started in the 18th century and whose historical birthplace was in France. Other new areas of study included prehistory, archaeology, geology, anthropology and palaeontology, which made it possible to accumulate new specimens and unprecedented knowledge.

This curiosity has never faded. We now keep watch over one of the three largest collections in the world, consisting of herbariums, meteorites, micro-organisms, old books, vertebrae, molluscs, rocks, minerals, etc. The collection is constantly growing and serves as a precious resource for research, teaching and knowledge dissemination!

Science, at the heart of society

Within our three great scientific departments, nearly 600 researchers are busy describing the beginnings of the living world, understanding its evolution and variety, the interactions between humans and their environment, and the impact of current changes. They are heavily reliant on our cutting-edge equipment and on the many disciplines studied in our establishment. A key asset! From the most basic research to discoveries adopted by civil society, they form partnerships at international level.

Did you know? The Muséum also carries out expert missions for the French state and for many national and international, public and private stakeholders. Through its multidisciplinary skills and wide-reaching network, the Muséum provides scientific insight precious to decision-makers, particularly on environmental issues.

Knowledge sharing

Our vocation is to produce knowledge and share it with the widest possible public. Come into our permanent gallery space, discover our temporary exhibitions on themes that vary from gemstones to great apes. Admire our collections of plants and animals, in Paris and across the country, in our glasshouses and botanical gardens, our zoological gardens, our marinarium, etc.

Moreover, we offer training programmes for students, doctoral students, teachers and professionals. These are unique in combining a wide range of disciplines, including natural, human and social sciences.

Our knowledge dissemination efforts do not stop there: explore our range of publications for the general public and scientific publications of high international standard. Plenty to feed your curiosity!

Nature preservation

The Muséum displays many marvels and is committed to preserving them. Indeed, some plant species in our collection are now extinct in their natural environment. And our zoological parks are involved in many conservation programmes.

We do this work with your help: contribute to our participative science programmes! You can help build databases that are invaluable for monitoring biodiversity and thus help our researchers to issue warnings when an environment is under threat. Through our Manifestos, Forums, podcasts and involvement in international programmes, we are speaking up to save the future of our planet.
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The Muséum in figures


Around 2,500 staff members, of whom 500 are affiliated to other organisations and entities.


570 researchers

1,500 scientific publications a year


Over 60 million items of data on species in the Inventaire national du Patrimoine naturel (National Inventory of Natural Heritage, INPN)

Over 8 million items of data on the flora found in the Paris Basin.

Over 200,000 million species catalogued in France in the Inventaire national du Patrimoine naturel (INPN).


68 million specimens in the natural history collections.

Over 10 million specimens or batches computerised or digitised.

Over 2 million documents, books, periodicals, electronic resources, archives, drawings, and scientific and artistic objects in the libraries.


Around 6 million people have visited the Muséum’s 13 sites, over 3 million of whom were paying visitors.

Over 6 million visitors to the websites.


Over 250 Master’s students.

150 doctoral students.

To find out more

Find out about our organisation, activities and partnerships, as well as our consultations, activity reports, etc., in the “About the Muséum” section.

About the Muséum

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