Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle

Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle

French Museum of Natural History
Muséum national d'histoire naturelle
Great Gallery of Evolution in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France

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Location within Paris
Established June 10, 1793 (1793-06-10)
Location 57 Rue Cuvier, Paris, France
Coordinates

48°50′32″N 2°21′23″E / 48.8422°N 2.3564°E / 48.8422; 2.3564

Type natural history museum
Collection size 62 million specimens[1]
Visitors 1.9 million per year
Director Gilles Bœuf
Public transit access
Website www.mnhn.fr

The National Museum of Natural History (France), known in French as the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle (abbreviation MNHN), is the national museum of natural history of France. The main museum is located in Paris, France, on the left bank of the River Seine. It was founded in 1793 during the French Revolution. The museum now comprises 14 sites throughout France, with four in Paris, including the original location at the Jardin des Plantes.

History

The museum was formally founded on 10 June 1793, during the French Revolution. Its origins lie, however, in the Jardin royal des plantes médicinales (Royal Medicinal Plant Garden) created by King Louis XIII in 1635, which was directed and run by the royal physicians. The royal proclamation of the boy-king Louis XV on 31 March 1718, however, removed the medical function, enabling the garden—which became known simply as the Jardin du Roi (King's Garden)—to focus on natural history.

For much of the 18th century (1739–1788), the garden was under the direction of Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, one of the leading naturalists of the Enlightenment, bringing international fame and prestige to the establishment. The royal institution remarkably survived the French Revolution by being reorganized in 1793 as a republican Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle with twelve professorships of equal rank. Some of its early professors included eminent comparative anatomist Georges Cuvier and evolutionary pioneers Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck and Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. The museum's aims were to instruct the public, put together collections and conduct scientific research. It continued to flourish during the 19th century, and, particularly under the direction of chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul, became a rival to the University of Paris in scientific research. For example, during the period that Henri Becquerel held the chair for Applied Physics at the Muséum (1892–1908) he discovered the radiation properties of uranium. (Four generations of Becquerels held this chairmanship, from 1838 to 1948.[2])

A decree of 12 December 1891 ended this phase, returning the museum to an emphasis on natural history. After receiving financial autonomy in 1907, it began a new phase of growth, opening facilities throughout France during the interwar years. In recent decades, it has directed its research and education efforts at the effects of human exploitation on the environment. In French public administration, the Muséum is classed as a grand établissement of higher education.

Mission and organization

The museum has as its mission both research (fundamental and applied) and public diffusion of knowledge. It is organized into seven research and three diffusion departments.[3]

The research departments are:

The diffusion departments are:

The museum also developed higher education, and now delivers a master's degree.[4]

Location and branches

The museum comprises 14 sites[5] throughout France with 4 in Paris, including the original location at the Jardin des Plantes in the 5th arrondissement of Paris (métro Place Monge). The galleries open to the public are the Cabinet d’Histoire du Jardin des Plantes in the Hôtel de Magny, the Gallery of Mineralogy and Geology, the Gallery of Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy, and the famous Grand Gallery of Evolution (Grande galerie de l'évolution). The museum's Menagerie is also located here.

The herbarium of the museum, referred to by code P, includes a large number of important collections amongst its 8 000 000 plant specimens. The historical collections incorporated into herbarium, designated with its P prefix, include Lamarck's (P-LA) Desfontaines (P-Desf.) and Tournefort and Plumier (P-TRF). The designation at CITES is FR 75A. It publishes Adansonia, a botanical periodical, and journals on the flora of New Caledonia, Madagascar and Comores, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, Cameroon, and Gabon.[6]

The Musée de l'Homme is also in Paris, in the XVIe arrondissement (métro Trocadéro). It houses displays in ethnography and physical anthropology, including artifacts, fossils, and other objects.

Are also part of the museum :

  • Four scientific sites, the Institut de Paléontologie humaine in Paris, the Centre d'Écologie générale de Brunoy, the Station de Biologie marine et Marinarium de Concarneau and the CRESCO (Centre de Recherche et d'Enseignement sur les Systèmes Côtiers) in Dinard.

Chairs

The transformation of the Jardin from the medicinal garden of the King to a national public museum of natural history required the creation of twelve Chaired positions. Over the ensuing years the number of Chairs and their subject areas evolved, some being subdivided into two positions and others removed. The list of Chairs of the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle includes major figures in the history of the Natural sciences. Early chaired positions were held by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, René Desfontaines and Georges Cuvier, and later occupied by Paul Rivet, Léon Vaillant and others.

In popular culture

The Gallery of Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy and other parts of Jardin des Plantes was a source of inspiration for French graphic novelist Jacques Tardi. The gallery appears on the first page and several subsequent pages of Adèle et la bête (Adèle and the Beast; 1976), the first album in the series of Les Aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec. The story opens with a 136 million year old pterodactyl egg hatching, and a live pterodactyl escaping through the gallery glass roof, wreaking havoc and killing people in Paris. (The Gallery of Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy returned the favor by placing a life size cardboard cutout of Adèle and the hatching pterodactyl in a glass cabinet outside the main entrance on the top floor balcony.)

Directors of the Museum


Directors elected for one year:

Directors elected for two years:

Directors elected for five years:

Presidents elected for five years:

  • 2002 to 2006 : Bernard Chevassus-au-Louis
  • 2006 to 2008 : André Menez (deceased in February 2008)
  • 2008 to ... : Gilles Boeuf

See also

Paris portal
History portal

References

External links

Coordinates: 48°50′32″N 2°21′23″E / 48.842109°N 2.356286°E / 48.842109; 2.356286

  • MNHN official website (English version)
  • the Virtual Gallery of Mineralogy (English version)
  • Popular and unofficial site (French only)
  • Flickr Mostly Paris, some Lille.
  • Photos of Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (English version)