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The French National Museum of Natural History

The French National Museum of Natural History owns one of the world’s largest collections in natural history. Discovering, understanding, highlighting and helping to protect the Earth’s natural and cultural diversity form the central objective of its activity.

Founded in 1635 as the “Royal Medicinal Plant Garden”, it became the National Museum of Natural History in 1793. It operates under the dual supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development and Planning. Today, it extends across a number of different sites: the Jardin des Plantes, the Musée de l’Homme, the Paris Zoo, and around twelve other sites across France, including two marine biology stations in Brittany and an arboretum.

MISSION

Since its foundation, the Museum has worked, in the fields of natural and human sciences, toward the following missions: conducting fundamental and applied research, preserving and building up its collections, teaching and training, providing expertise, and spreading scientific culture to the public.

PRIORITIES

  • To make more profitable the Museum’s collections and increase their world-wide accessibility.
  • To study biodiversity and biodiversity management from the perspective of sustainable development.
  • To disseminate scientific knowledge in order to raise social awareness about what is at stake in biodiversity issues.

AREAS OF ACTIVITY

The Museum’s research teams have the general objective of advancing the knowledge of the natural world and anticipating its evolutionary dynamic. They take part in a large number of European and international research programmes and help develop a better understanding of the Earth’s history and life, the mechanisms of evolution and the origins of man and his relationships with nature. Their expertise is used at the national, European and international levels by political decision makers. The Museum is the national reference centre for nature; it leads the European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity and it is involved in the implementation of Biodiversity Multilateral Agreements by France (including Scientific Authority for CITES and CBD focal point for the SBSTTA, the CHM, the GTI and the GSPC). The Museum is also a higher education institution qualified to award Master and PhD degrees. Last but not least, through events directed toward the general public (exhibitions, conferences, etc.), and training of school teachers, the Museum plays an important role in disseminating scientific knowledge and raising public awareness to the importance of biodiversity.

KEY FIGURES

  • About 1800 staff members including 500 researchers, approximately 400 students, and 2 million paying visitors per year.
  • Seven Scientific Departments: History of the Earth; Ecology and Biodiversity Management; Aquatic Environments and Populations; Systematics and Evolution; Regulation, Development and Molecular Diversity; Mankind, Nature, Societies; Prehistory.
  • Three Scientific Dissemination Departments: Galleries, Botanical and Zoological Gardens, Musée de l’Homme (Museum of Mankind).
  • Collections: some 65 million minerals, fossils and naturalized specimens, including over 800 000 type specimens, around 15% of which have been computerized and digitized, and the largest herbarium in the world (11 million specimens). The national collections of living plants and animals are housed in the Museum’s parks and zoos.

Link to The Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle de France website.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme