Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature

Paris, France | C.1964

Photo Credit: Janina Wagner

Over millennia of human history man has solidified their relationship with animals through different means of prowess. Whether humans have encountered animals in a wild or domestic means, each meeting offers a unique story of how we have come to know and understand that species. The Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature, or the Museum of Hunting and Nature, seeks to understand these relationships through the lens of the natural environment and the traditions and practices of hunting.

Wealthy industrialist rug makers Francois Sommer and his wife Jacqueline founded the museum in 1964. They were both avid hunters and conservationists who wanted to create a space for the history of hunting to be commemorated.

Throughout the years, the museum has grown a large and eclectic collection of unique and rare artifacts. The collections are organized around three main themes: hunting weapons, which includes guns and horns; hunting products, such as trophies and taxidermy animals; and artistic representations of wildlife and hunting such as paintings, prints, sculptures, tapestries.

The collections are housed in the limestone Hotel de Guenegaud under a 99-year lease. The hotel offers a suitable 18th century backdrop to the museum’s collections. Guests can tour the multiple rooms paneled in wood and outfitted with intricate bronze decorative fixtures made to look like vines, antlers and tree branches that were designed by Brazilian sculptor Saint Clair Cemin.

Upon entering one room, guests are met with the sights of a collage of owl feathers in a work called “The Night of Diana” by contemporary Belgian artist Jan Fabre. Jan Fabre was previously known for decorating the ceiling of the Royal Palace in Brussels with more than a million and a half beetle wing cases.

The museum has been characterized by the Smithsonian as “”one of the most rewarding and inventive in Paris””, and continues to operate in the leased hotel location. Although the name and topic of the museum can be one of contention, it offers a unique perspective into how hunting and human’s relationships with animals have shaped our society.

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