Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature, November 2015

No cheating! Can you tell which one is the human in this picture?

No cheating! Can you tell which one is the human in this picture?

 

Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature

One of the things that is a curse and a blessing regarding not speaking a language well, let’s say, moi une belle fille Americane who is not all that fluent in French, who finds herself in Paris, is when I visit a place of interest and have no information in my native tongue, I can 1) miss the whole point of the place; and 2) make up all sorts of stories much more interesting than the text provided.

Such is the case of my visit to Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature at 62, Rue des Archives. For those of you who don’t know me, I am the sort who can burrow into my studio or in front of my computer or wander off into the woods for days on end, emerging only to eat, use to the bathroom or have my husband Bill drag me somewhere. I’m very glad to have Bill in my life. He rescued me from a life as a hermit, recluse, and creature of habit. He is my activity director and usually never disappoints. With him I am never bored.  Bill takes his job seriously and makes it a point to seek out places and things that satisfy my sense of curiosity that slants towards the bizarre, unusual and more than dips into the grotesque. Well, our foray to Musee di la Chasse et de la Nature did not disappoint on all counts!

I loved this place. I could live in it. I could decorate my house with every single item in it. It has my number, it is my best friend, I was at home! I knew I was in for a treat the moment we stepped into the very unimposing building, in fact, we weren’t even sure we had arrived. Beyond the street door was a courtyard straight ahead with 3 enormous beehive type structures that were later determined were ovens relating to one of the exhibits. Given they had a striking resemblance to kilns, I immediately broke into a trot. To the right and left in this square little vestibule were doors with very little markings. We went right and found ourselves in a small, bare lobby. Assuring us we were in the right place we were told to go through some double doors and down a hallway, past a set of open stairs with amazing iron worked handrails and chandeliers.

Check out the amazing ireon work on the light fixtures, scones and bannisters in the stair hall.

Check out the amazing iron work on the light fixtures, scones and banisters in the stair hall.

At the end of the hall we found ourselves in a darkened room being watched over by a very nice man who looked official and smart in a uniform that I realized wasn’t a uniform, just smart French apparel. He handed us a card in English that didn’t seem to refer to anything. I just barged in. What lay beyond this door were rooms filled with curiosities, taxidermy, artworks both old and contemporary, and all sorts of bric-a- brac related to flora, fauna and hunting. O.M.G!

This museum is the best representation of the intersection of art and nature that I have ever seen. Some rooms were decorated with comfy sofas and furniture that upon first glance seemed to be “don’t you dare touch” armoires, but in reality were cleverly and expertly crafted please touch cabinets of curiosity with compartments and drawers each containing artifacts, moving images, paw prints and other paraphernalia pertaining to a specific animal, like a wolf in one, a moose in the other.

One of the amazing cabinets of curiosity of the Grey Wolf. Those 2 circles under the words are for you to look through and see a really cool video of a wolf strolling through a make believe forest.

One of the amazing cabinets of curiosity of the Grey Wolf. Those 2 circles under the words are for you to look through and see a really cool video of a wolf strolling through a make believe forest.

Another room was filled with all sorts of bizarre specimens in glass jars, yet another a room of taxidermied baboons playing cards. Presentation of specimens is elegant, grotesque, whimsical, tongue in cheek, a surprise at every turn. What I found especially attractive was that intermingled among the artifacts were contemporary artworks made to mimic the collection.

These are all tureens. Care for some soup?

These are all tureens. Care for some soup?

I took this picture because the dog on the right looks like Petey, especially when he's in the process of trying to take my arm off.

I took this picture because the dog on the right looks like Petey, especially when he’s in the process of trying to take my arm off.

I know this is all pretty gruesome and heartbreaking but at the same time it's completely fascinating, sort of like a train wreck.

I know this is all pretty gruesome and heartbreaking but at the same time it’s completely fascinating, sort of like a train wreck.

Check out the painted ceiling. Is that a gnu over the window??

Check out the painted ceiling. Is that a gnu over the window??

I know, I'd rather see him moving around in a zoo (I'm too chicken to see one this close in the wild)

I know, I’d rather see him moving around in a zoo (I’m too chicken to see one this close in the wild)

What do you think they're trying to catch with this????

What do you think they’re trying to catch with this????

Pretty cool contemporary sculpture in the collection.

Pretty cool contemporary sculpture in the collection.

Clever way to display your Aunt Bessie's jewelry...

Clever way to display your Aunt Bessie’s jewelry…

Very cool very large porcelain sculpture!

Very cool very large porcelain sculpture!

So please do visit this wonderful museum. I have made up all sorts of stories about it. There was a room at the end of the exhibit that explained who founded the collection and created the museum. I could only gather with my 3rd grade elementary school level of French comprehension that the items were collected by a man who held a high level position in whatever the French equivalent is to the US Department of Interior, and created the museum and donated the items after his tenure, for the enjoyment and education regarding what the glorious natural world has to offer us.  The elegance and placement of these objects side by side with exquisite artworks, to me, reflect how precious our natural environment is and in a way, how sad it is that it is housed in a museum where it is safe from human destruction unlike what is going on outside its walls all over the world.

Without the help of electronic translators, I think this says that Francois Sommer and his wife Jacqueline created the Foundation of the Hunt and Nature to promote hunting that is respectful of and in harmony with nature.

Without the help of electronic translators, I think this says that Francois Sommer and his wife Jacqueline created the Foundation of the Hunt and Nature to promote hunting that is respectful of and in harmony with nature.

Ok, how close did I get to the real meaning and purpose of the place???

 

 

3 thoughts on “Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature, November 2015

  1. kinneret says:

    Wow this really does look morbidly fascinating. You described it well as a train wreck. There are a couple of things this makes me think of that you might find funny. One was an episode from Wooster and Jeeves where Bertie Wooster tries to steal a cow creamer from a rich family. (and the cow creamer is their prized possession). The other was a skit also by Wodehouse called the Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQCaSeysbHs
    In this skit, two poetic animal lovers are confounded by the man’s bloodthirsty hunter relatives who love to shoot gnu. (The whole thing is a farce– it is absolutely hilarious, a must see.)
    Thank you for sharing the info on this museum.

    Like

      • kinneret says:

        You’re welcome. You’ll love it! I bet you had a shock when you saw this museum at first the way I had a shock when I went to a museum in London. I thought I was going to a museum about theater with moving scenery because it was called the Operating Theater. It turned out to be the gruesomest place with all of the surgical instruments. I almost passed out and was shaky in the knees.

        Like

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