A Museum and a Home

Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature)

One of the joys of being able to spend an extended period of time in Paris this summer is discovering museums and shops I have not had the opportunity to visit on previous trips.

This past weekend I went to heart of the ‘Marais’ (my favorite district in Paris) and visited the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature.  It is an intentionally eccentric museum created by Francois and Jacqueline Sommer in 1964.  According to the pamphlet the museum’s aim is twofold: to support ethical hunting and to display hunting related artwork the couple collected.

And what a collection it is.

Housed the handsome limestone clad ‘Hotel de Guenegaud’, a 17th century “Hotel” whose design is attributed to Mansart, and the 18th century, Hotel de Mongelas, this museum offers the double pleasure of visiting a beautifully restored house museum which just happens to contain a very eclectic (and fine) collection of art and design.

One is greeted by a stuffed Polar Bear in the first gallery that looks so animated you’ll think you’ve entered a Grimm’s fairy tale and he is going to tag along and be your guide.   Alas, the bear doesn’t come to life, but there are plenty of other animals throughout the house, that I thought maybe the entire forest and jungle fauna have been wandering the the streets of Paris and happened to find this fabulous mansion to call home.

If you visit the museum, and I hope you do, make sure you see the faithful re-creation of the Sommers’ hunting hut.  

Their rudimentary hunting lodge was used by many of their friends including Ernest Hemingway and Georges Pompidou.  The collection of everyday objects intermingling with African art is highly personal and seeing it alone, would be worth the price of admission.

http://www.chassenature.org/

Address:  60-62 Rue des Archives, 75003 – Paris