The National Museum of Natural History, four centuries at the heart of life – The Best Paris

The National Museum of Natural History, four centuries at the heart of life – The Best Paris

On the coronary heart of the botanical backyard, the Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past is without doubt one of the most essential analysis and schooling facilities within the capital. By sheltering greater than 62 million species in its many galleries, it holds one of many richest collections on the earth. An ambition that doesn’t date from yesterday, since within the seventeenth century it already housed one of the essential botanical gardens of the time.

From the botanical backyard to the pure historical past cupboard

If the Center Ages had been very enthusiastic about medicinal vegetation, their cultivation was usually restricted to horti sanitatis positioned in monasteries and universities. It was throughout the Renaissance that the Botanical Backyard embodies the humanistic superb by being designed via a extra scientific classification of plant species. It’s on this mental motion that Man de La Bosseone of many medical doctors of Louis XIII who managed to persuade him to create a Royal Backyard of medicinal vegetation on the land of Alez. Positioned southeast of Paris, the property features a fort surrounded by a big park.

Opened to the general public in 1640, the brand new backyard welcomes a number of thousand vegetation helpful for well being, but in addition for analysis for future medical doctors or academics. Inside the cultures, classes in botany, chemistry and anatomy are then given freed from cost by demonstrators in French – and never in Latin as was carried out on the time. A contemporary schooling which may be very profitable, though it’s not to the style of the Medical College carried out by the clergy, who will condemn him as a heretic. However over time, the battle subsides, and the backyard diversifies its crops stored within the outdated fort. From 1693, Man Crescent Fagon, first physician to King Louis XIV, recruited famend botanists equivalent to Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, Sébastien Vaillant or Antoine de Jussieu. It is usually the time of the Grand Tour meant to finish schooling via journeys all through Europe. Fagon thus encourages medical doctors to cross the ocean to import little recognized tropical vegetationjust like the espresso tree.

Frédéric Scalberge, The Royal Backyard of Medicinal Vegetation, 1636

Nonetheless, on the flip of the 18th century, natural medication gave solution to pure historical past trendy. The place is then renamed king’s backyard », and the fort formally turns into the « cupboard of Pure Historical past ». From 1739, the superintendence was entrusted to the Depend of Buffon, making it one of many biggest facilities of scientific analysis of the time. By means of his motion, the Backyard and the examine doubled in measurement, whereas a group of prestigious naturalists settled there and enriched the collections.

The Museum, a analysis laboratory

Beneath the wrath of the Revolution, the Backyard takes its autonomy. In 1793, a decree supported by Joseph Lakanal offers start to Nationwide Museum of Pure Historical past to be able to democratize entry to data. The brand new director and the twelve professors are then guarantors of the independence of analysis. Amongst them, the naturalist Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire may have a substantial position by its examine of the animal life. As quickly as he arrived, he created the Menagerie, one of many oldest zoos on the earth which then aroused nice curiosity amongst contemporaries. And lengthy earlier than Darwin, he affirmed the existence of a progressive transformation of species over time. On the similar time, different grand theories are rising, such because the invention of comparative anatomy and paleontology by Georges Cuvier, the legal guidelines of genetics by Charles Naudin, or the invention of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel.

Pierre Petit, New Galleries of Zoology, circa 1885

Confronted with quite a few explorations, collections improve considerably, in order that the areas of the outdated unique fort are now not ample. Between 1833 and 1837, Charles Rohault de Fleury based a new mineralogy gallery, which seems to be the primary French constructing particularly devoted to a museum. Within the backyard, the architect additionally builds the two bigger greenhouses composed of steel and glass constructions by no means constructed on the time. Then, the Museum expanded much more between 1877 and 1889, when Jules André constructed the Zoological Gallery – now the Nice Gallery of Evolution – in addition to that of paleontology and comparative anatomy.

And the Museum was not at its final conquest since within the twentieth century, it additionally turned the proprietor of the area of Chèvreloup, the zoological park of Vincennes and the Museum of humanput in on the Trocadero.

A museum of hundreds of thousands of species

The huge collections of the Museum very early on fascinated guests from everywhere in the world, who found hitherto unknown species. From 1884, non permanent exhibitions had been organized within the galleries, one in all which confirmed species collected as much as 5,000 meters beneath the ocean. As we speak, they continue to be no much less spectacular. The Botany gallery is made up of a herbarium of 57,000 species and a mycotheque comprising 4,000 stay strains. The fossil assortment contains greater than 2.7 million specimens together with: 30,000 mammals, reptiles, birds and fish, 2.5 million molluscs, 200,000 fossil vegetation and 30,000 foraminifera.

The Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy Gallery

It’s due to this fact not stunning that the place welcomes greater than two million guests annually. And past its quite a few exhibitions, it is usually the one museum to be a College Centre awarding a doctorate for researchers. One twin standing which perpetuates its preliminary need to teach the general public whereas contributing to the event of scientific data.

Romane Fraysse

Additionally learn: The fascinating story of the 300-year-old tree within the Jardin des Plantes

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