Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Hunting in Paris

Paris is full of weird and wonderful museums. There’s a museum of the Paris Police Force (Musee de la Prefecture de Police), a Museum of Freemasonry (Musee de la Franc-Maconnerie), a Museum of Eroticism (Musee de l’Erotisme) and a Museum of Counterfeiting (Musee de la Contrefacon) but our current favourite for unusual subject matter is the recently reopened Museum of Hunting and Nature (Musee de la Chasse & de la Nature) on the rue des Archives in the Marais.

The Museum of Hunting is housed in the beautifully refurbished Hotel de Guenegaud. Built between 1651 and 1655 by the celebrated French architect, Francois Mansart, for the King’s secretary, the hotel is both a rare example of grand Parisian living in the middle of the 17th century and the perfect showplace for the collection. Even if you have no interest in hunting or nature, the building alone is worth a visit.

The collection, however, is a fascinating pastiche of everything to do with man’s relationship with wild creatures and nature: guns, paintings, a stuffed wild boar, stag horn cutlery, a Jeff Koons’ terrier and a phantasmagorical owl ceiling made out of heads and feathers are all part of the story.

We really like the way the museum does not engage in the current political debate on the subject. Hunting is neither promoted nor vilified. Even in the examples where animals meet a brutal end, the relationship between hunter and hunted seems more noble and humane than man’s current practice of industrial animal farming. Along the same line, the collection of guns and hunting accessories are so handsome and so beautifully displayed that one’s sentiments about the evils of all weaponry is also challenged.

This is a wonderful museum on every level: great location, fabulous building and fascinating collection. On the day we were there, we had the place completely to ourselves.

Museum of Hunting and Nature
62, rue des Archives
75003 Paris

Image courtesy of the museum website

No comments:

Post a Comment