Grande Galerie de l'Evolution,Paris

The monumental building housing the Grand Gallery of Evolution stands at the end of the formal garden of the Jardin des Plantes in the 5th arrondissement of Paris. The gallery is part of the National Museum of Natural History and is very popular among both children and adults. In the years 1994-2014, more than 13 million visitors came there to discover the stunning collection of naturalised animals, one of the largest in the world.

About the Grand Gallery of Evolution

The monumental 19th century glass-domed building features thousands of naturalised animals that seem to come to life thanks to a clever scenography with lighting effects, sounds and musical sequences. The Grand Gallery of Evolution (Grande Galerie de l’Évolution) displays only a small part of the great historical collections of the former Gallery of Zoology: 9,500 specimens are on display out of 75 million kept by the museum (including 40 million insects, 1 million of fish, 80,000 birds and mammals). The gallery and its glass roof reaching 30 metres above the ground floor first opened in July 1889 just a few months after the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower.

Closed in 1966, the gallery and its monumental hall were renovated in 1991. Reopened in 1994, the current permanent exhibition extends over 6,000 m2 in four levels with level -1 dedicated to temporary exhibitions.

The French National Museum of Natural History, known in French as the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle (abbreviation MNHN), is the national natural history museum of France and a grand établissement of higher education part of Sorbonne Universities. 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, but was established earlier in 1635. As of 2017, the museum has 14 sites throughout France, with four in Paris, including the original location at the royal botanical garden, the Jardin des Plantes, which remains one of the seven departments of MNHN.

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 garden of medicinal plants) 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 purely 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.).

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 on the environment of human exploitation. In French public administration, the Muséum is classed as a grand établissement of higher education.
The permanent exhibtition The permanent exhibition of the Grand Gallery of Evolution is displayed in four levels, with levels 2 and 3 in the balconies.

Level 0 – The diversity of life – Marine habitats. Visitors are invited to explore the diversity of animal species that inhabit the watery realm of the seas.

Level 1 – The diversity of life – Terrestrial habitats. Many animals species that live on land can be observed, from the tropical forests of the Americas to French nature reserves and wildlife, and from the Sahara desert to the Arctic and Antarctic.
The African Savannah is the highlight of a visit to the gallery due to its famous caravan of antelopes, buffalo, elephants, girafes, lions, rhinoceros, and zebras.

Recommendation of Hotels in Paris

Level 2 – Man’s role in evolution. The exhibition on the middle balcony in level 2 explains how human activity has changed and continues to change the course of life to a greater extend. On the side of the balcony, a dark hall shows specimens of endangered and extinct species such as the dodo.

Level 3 – The evolution of life The highest balcony of the gallery introduces the great naturalists that contributed to the understanding of life history (Buffon, Lamarck, Cuvier, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Darwin…). It also explains the mechanisms of evolution.
Lighting Effects A skilful scenography with lighting effects, sounds and musical sequences enhances the display of the collections set under the monumental 19th century glass-roof. It recreates the stages of the day, from sunrise to sunset punctuated with sunny and rainy episodes.

A few practical info

The animal on display are fragile and should not be touched. Photographs are allowed if without flash and tripods. The Great Gallery of Evolution is accessible from métro stations Jussieu (lines 7 and 10), Place Monge (line 7), Gare d’Austerlitz (lines 5, 10, and RER C) For more information about the opening hours and fees of the Great Gallery of Evolution, visit the official website

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