A charming place to be discovered

Exhibitions | History and heritage | Museums | Nature
The musée de la Chasse by Esprit de France
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Hôtel des Saints Pères
Hôtel des Saints Pères de la collection Esprit de France

The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature    

Strolling round the Marais district, you may enjoy an unusual visit in a place that combines the charm of a superbly restored heritage mansion and the discovery of totally original works and objects. In fact, the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, located rue des Archives, brings together two 17th century private mansions, the very simple Hôtel de Mongelas, the courtyard of which leads to the entrance of the museum and part of the halls featuring temporary exhibitions of contemporary artists, and the Hôtel de Guénégaud, one of the most elegant in Paris. 

It is indeed one of the rare remaining buildings designed by the famous architect François Mansart, who built this mansion at the request of Jean-François de Guénégaud des Brosses, King Louis XIV's State Councilor. In 1967, on the initiative of André Malraux, these two buildings, which were then designed to become continuous, were assigned to the Sommer Foundation, created by François Sommer and his wife who, as patrons, were passionate about hunting as well as about the protection of nature. Their collections now housed there and enriched by loans from museums, are extremely varied and could appear disparate if they were not united by a very original staging where each room devoted to the discovery of an animal is arranged in the manner of a puzzle or of a track game with very diverse clues relevant to the animal in question. There are exhibits devoted to boars, deer, wolves, birds of prey, horses, hunting dogs, wild animals and even monkeys. Between these, small cabinets are interspersed such as the one dedicated to the goddess Diana, which we most particularly like and for which the contemporary artist Jan Fabre has designed an extraordinary cupola of feathers where strange heads of owls observe the visitor with their piercing eyes; or the one devoted to the imaginary Unicorn which is a modern cabinet of curios, filled with enigmatic objects, natural and artificial, traditional or quite contemporary such as the video by Maïder Fortuné showing the ghostly silhouette of a unicorn slowly disappearing under a rain of ashes.

Thus, each of these presentations mixes old pieces and contemporary ones quite boldly and successfully: a small Puppie by Jeff Koons next to Louis XIV’s dogs painted by Oudry, eighteenth century porcelain terrines next to a very ironical modern porcelain by Wieki Somers. So why not take advantage of the European Heritage Days to discover this museum that is unlike any other?