Officially established during the French Revolution in 1793, the National Museum of Natural History (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle) is an organization that encompasses 12 sites across France. Paris is home to numerous MNHN institutions, most of which are located at the Jardin des Plantes in the Fifth Arrondissement.
The origins of Paris’ National Museum of Natural History date to the 17th century, when Jardin Royal des Plantes Médicinales—now known as Jardin des Plantes—was established by King Louis XIII. While the MNHN now comprises numerous individual institutions spread across France, the bulk are still headquartered at Jardin des Plantes. Highlights include galleries devoted to evolution, minerals and geology, paleontology, botany, and a children’s museum and zoo.
The MNHN facilities at the Jardin des Plantes can be explored independently or admired on a walking tour. The Jardin des Plantes, given its position along the Seine, can be glimpsed from a river cruise.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The MNHN institutions at the Jardin des Plantes are ticketed separately, although it’s possible to bundle admission with a discounted rate at one additional site.
- Most exhibitions and galleries are aimed at visitors of all ages, while the Children’s Gallery (La Galerie des Enfants) was designed for kids.
- Select sites—including the Garden of Plants (Jardin des Plantes) and Gallery of Evolution (Grande Galerie de l’Évolution)—are accessible to visitors with limited mobility.
How to Get There
There are numerous options for visiting the MNHN sites at the Jardin des Plantes. Take Métro line 5 to the Gare d’Austerlitz, line 7 to Censier Daubenton, line 10 to Jussieu or Gare d’Austerlitz, and the RER C to Gare d’Austerlitz. Bus routes 24, 57, 61, 63, 67, 89, and 91 serve the area, as do SNCF trains at the Gare d’Austerlitz.
When to Get There
The Jardin des Plantes is open daily with extended hours in summer. The MNHN’s institutions, both those on-site and those located elsewhere in Paris, have varied opening hours. An array of events and temporary exhibitions are held throughout the year.
Additional MNHN Sites in Paris
Beyond the Jardin des Plantes, other MNHN institutions are located across Paris. It’s worth planning additional visits to the Museum of Man (Le Musée de l’Homme) located in the 16th arrondissement and the Paris Zoological Park (Le Parc Zoologique de Paris) in Parc de Vincennes.