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The monumental staircases © MNHN - Bruno Jay
The monumental staircases © MNHN - Bruno Jay

The monumental staircases of the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution

The Grande Galerie de l’Évolution is home to two historic monumental staircases. During the time of the Galerie de Zoologie (Gallery of Zoology), they gave visitors access to the various levels of the Gallery from the esplanade of the Jardin des Plantes (Garden of Plants).

These staircases have been closed to the public until now, and today both young and old can walk up and down them.

The monumental staircases © MNHN - Bruno Jay
The monumental staircases © MNHN - Bruno Jay

The staircases are lined with the busts and stories of the adventurers, naturalist and scientist voyagers of yesteryear who made the Museum and gathered the first collections of natural history, giving you the chance to make a discovery at every step! Visitors can cross Guy de la Brosse (1586-1641), the founder and director of Jardin du Roy, as well as the majestic statue of Buffon (1707-1788), commissioned by Louis XV to the sculptor Augustin Pajou (1730-1809), during the lifetime of the intendant of the Jardin du Roy.

This set of statues is supplemented by a series of 27 busts of major naturalists of the Museum, commissioned by the State at the very beginning of the twentieth century. These busts have a curious history: hidden away in a cellar in the Galerie de Zoologie at the beginning of the First World War, they were forgotten about until the renovation works in 1990; once restored and identified - they were anonymous - they were distributed across the two staircases. Twenty years later, Paul Chemetov returned to the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution and shone a spotlight on these staircases. But the AUA agency’s touch didn’t stop there; it extended to the entrance hall, which has now been stripped back to the way it was originally intended.