Museum of Natural History’s Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy

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Museum of Natural History’s Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy

Paris, France | Ferdinand Dutert | 1898

The French National Museum of Natural History (NMHN) was established during the French Revolution and today, the institution has over 12 sites around the country. In 1898, the Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy opened as part of the NMHN, and in conjunction with the upcoming 1900 Exposition Universelle or World’s Fair. Designed by Ferdinand Dutert, the building stacks two 80-meter long exhibition halls: the Gallery of Comparative Anatomy on ground floor and the Gallery of Paleontology on the second floor.

The artifact presentation is impressive for its quantity and scale. Unlike MASP or Louvre Lens where different media are collectively exhibited, the uniform material here (fossils) makes it easier to compare and contrast the objects. In the Gallery of Comparative Anatomy, a male figure leads an enormous heard of animal skeletons that are grouped by type. On the second floor, hundreds of vertebrae fossils, with the earliest dating back 600 million years, are displayed chronologically in the center nave.

The important architectural element in both galleries is the balcony. Dutert uses the balcony as a vertical transition between galleries but also as an extension of the exhibition display. The elevated planes provide amazing views of the thousands of objects in space.

Visited: March 9, 2018

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