Muséum national d'histoire naturelle

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Buffon monument in front of the Grande galerie de l'Evolution
Terrain map of the headquarters of the Natural History Museum in Paris
Grande galerie de l'évolution
Nile crocodile in the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes

The Muséum national d'histoire naturelle ( Sigel : MNHN) is a French national natural history museum to which a research and educational institution for bio and geosciences is connected. The Natural History Museum was founded on June 10, 1793, it has the status of a grand établissement and is subordinate to the French Ministry of Education, Research and the Environment. The head office is in Paris , in the course of history further branches in Paris and all over France were added.

Its scientific collections include more than 55 million exhibits, making the MNHN the third largest collection in the world. At the main location in Paris there is also a zoo attached to the museum , the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes .

At the time of its founding and in the pioneering years of biology , the museum was for a long time the most important natural research and educational institution in the world, the chairs of which were occupied by the most important biologists and natural scientists.


The origins of the museum lie in the royal medicinal herb garden, the Jardin royal des plantes médicinales , which was designed by Louis XIII. (1601–1643) initiated in 1635; the administration was the responsibility of the royal doctors. With the royal proclamation of the young King Louis XV. on March 31, 1718, the purely medical function was canceled, so that the complex was now called Jardin royal des plantes , later only Jardin des plantes . For much of the 18th century (1739–1788) the garden was under the direction of Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon , one of the leading naturalists of the Enlightenment . He brought international fame and prestige to the facility through his work.

This originally royal institution remarkably survived the French Revolution . The initiative was taken by Joseph Lakanal , who suggested to the Constituent Assembly that the collections of Louis V Joseph de Bourbon, prince de Condé, be used to set up the museum. After a reorganization, the republican Museé national d'histoire naturelle was re-established on June 10, 1793 with twelve professorships of the same rank. Some of her early professors were eminent scientists such as the founder of paleontology and comparative anatomy Georges Cuvier , the pioneer of evolutionary biological development research Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck, and the zoologist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire .

When Paris was occupied by Russian and Prussian troops in March 1814, marauding units began to destroy the Jardin des Plantes . With the support of Alexander von Humboldt , who gave the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III. served as a companion, the scientific facilities and collections could be saved from the raids of the occupation forces.

The museum published the Archives du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle from 1839 to 1861 .

After obtaining financial autonomy in 1907, a new phase of growth began throughout France during the interwar period. In recent decades, his research and education has focused on a better understanding of geo-, bio- and anthropodiversity, including the effects of human exploitation on the environment.

On the night of March 30, 2013, a 20-year-old broke into the museum and used a chainsaw to cut off a tusk from an exhibited elephant belonging to King Louis XIV . He fled with the piece of ivory, but was found nearby.

Today the museum is a natural history museum and a research facility for bio and geosciences . His areas of expertise include zoology , botany , geology and paleontology , including derived disciplines such as ecology . Its scientific collections, with the world's third largest total inventory after the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and the London Natural History Museum , include 40 million insects , 8 million flowering plants and 7 million other plants, algae and fungi ( cryptogams ) .

Affiliated institutions

Branch offices of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle


Eminent professors

Many important scientists have taught at the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle . Here is a chronologically sorted list of famous chair holders, each with the indication of the years in which they taught there:


  • Monique Ducreux (Ed.): La Grande Galérie de l'Evolution du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris 1999, ISBN 2-85653-253-5 .
  • Yves Laissus: Le Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Gallimard, Paris 1995, ISBN 2-07-053323-9 .
  • Newly arrived animals in the natural history museum of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris . In: Illustrirte Zeitung . No. 18 . J. J. Weber, Leipzig October 28, 1843, p. 283-285 ( ).
  • The Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle publishes five scientific journals that can be accessed free of charge on the Internet: Geodiversitas ( ISSN  1280-9659 ), Zoosystema ( ISSN  1280-9551 ), Adansonia ( ISSN  1280-8571 ), Anthropozoologica ( ISSN  0761-3032 ) and the European Journal of Taxonomy ( ISSN  2118-9773 ). The museum's scientific publications currently consist of six collections of monographs: Mémoires , Archives , Des Planches et des Mots , Patrimoine géologique (geological heritage), Patrimoines naturels (natural heritage) and Faune et Flore tropicales (tropical flora and fauna).


  • About rats and elephant seals. The world of the Paris Natural History Museum. (Alternative title: Dans les coulisses du Muséum. ) Documentary, France, 2014, 52:30 min., Book: Cécile Dumas, Vincent Gaullier, director: Stéphane Bégoin, production: arte France, CNRS Images, Morgane Groupe, TV5 Monde , German First broadcast: September 26, 2014 by arte, table of contents by arte.

Web links

Commons : Muséum national d'histoire naturelle  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The collection depuis quand? In: Muséum national d'histoire naturelle , accessed October 10, 2018.
  2. ^ Ivory theft with a chainsaw in a Paris museum. In: ORF , March 30, 2013.
  3. ^ Les Publications scientifiques du Muséum. In: MNHN , accessed October 1, 2014.

Coordinates: 48 ° 50 ′ 32 "  N , 2 ° 21 ′ 23"  E