Can the chaffinch, pike, jaguar and penguin live side by side? The answer is yes - at the Galerie des Enfants. The whole family can discover biodiversity in this gallery which opened in 2010. A word to enquiring minds young and old - stuffed animals and interactive games lie in wait.
Open every Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays
And every day on holidays
from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Children ages 6 to 12 years
Grande Galerie de l’Évolution
On the 1st floor of the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution
36 rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire
From €9 to €14
The Children’s Gallery
Just for them
The whole family may be welcome, but the Galerie des Enfants is first and foremost 6-12 year-old territory. A place of wonder and learning designed just for them, that they rush into as soon as they come through the door. No plastic animals here and certainly no boring exhibits. Some revel in touching everything, while others set themselves up as guides. Scientific data appears on large glass petals accompanying you throughout your visit. Welcome to the world condensed into 530 m2.
Life under the cobblestones
The visit begins in Paris and therefore on familiar territory. Well almost, for you might be surprised at the wide range of animal and plant life sheltering in Paris. Common kestrels nesting up in Notre-Dame Cathedral, goldmoss stonecrop taking advantage of a crevice in a wall to grow, a hedgehog trotting about in a park and all sorts of creepy crawlies populating our homes. Unbeknown to us, nature is everywhere in the streets, something parents and children have fun learning about. An animated cupboard, a virtual magnifying glass, a musical memory game - all they have to do is play.
The trail takes you on into a second micro-environment - La Bassée, a flood plain crossed by the Seine, between Troyes and Montereau. The river, a transparent table, is home to mounted specimens and activities. Who can catch that virtual fish? Who recognises that bird in the viewfinder? Gaze in wonder at these aquatic species or the fascinating metamorphosis of a dragonfly. Further on, fishermen document the changes which have occurred over the years within these ecosystems. There is indeed a high level of interaction between plants, aquatic animals and man. We must be vigilant.
With the Indians
Leaving the Seine valley, we head off to Brazil and plunge into the rainforest. Here we meet up with the Kayapo tribe of Amazonian Indians. Five short clips reveal the life of a child there, in the village, at home and at school, and their games and food. Discover the large mammals of the dark forest floor, such as the jaguar and the peccary. Simply slip into their footprints. The same lighting effects reveal the wildlife living in the streams, including the spectacled caiman, the fisherman bat and the piranha. Look up and you’ll see the canopy animals watching you from above - the parrots, sloths and the boa almost seem alive.
Around the world
The final highlight of the trail occupies the entire mezzanine, from where you can see the Jardin des Plantes. It puts the information gleaned by the visitor into perspective. Devoted to the planet, this thought-provoking exhibition focuses on our relationship with nature and how to preserve it. A giant 1.40 m revolving globe presents the terrestrial and marine environments, including the desert, steppe, tundra, polar circles, temperate, tropical and boreal forests, coral reefs and the open sea. Two touch screens tell you about the animals and people living there, mirrored by a procession of specimens opposite.
Let’s mull it over
Also upstairs is an entertaining activity which promotes eco-friendly actions. A group role-playing game where you step into the shoes of a town councillor who is wondering about introducing organic food into the canteen. Will you come down on the side of the agronomist, the doctor or the organic farmer? Not an easy choice for children or their parents, but after all, the Gallery has been designed to make you think. So go ahead and give it a try!