Friday, November 09, 2007

The Natural History Museum: Larger than Life

Larger than life seems to be an American expression-- things in France are much more understated and, in theory, more refined. The one place this seems to dissolve is in the Natural History Museum (Grande Galerie de l'Evolution). Located on the left bank, inside the walls of the Jardin des Plantes, this newly-renovated museum is awe-inspiring as soon as you walk in the door. This ode to taxidermy presents elephants, giraffes, butterflies and whales among other species, in a style that allows you to get as up close & personal with a lion as you would ever want. The African animals, for example, are put together in a scene mimicking an African valley. There are videos along the sides to show you actual footage of the area, complete with moving grass and elephants.

Whether your group includes a 9 month old or a 9 year old, this museum is a great stop-- and, ironically perhaps, something you don't see often in the U.S. Sometimes even the French are larger than life.

Overall rating: ****

Grande Galerie d'Evolution in the Jardin des Plantes
Address: 36, rue Geoffroy St. Hilaire, 5th arrondisement
Metro: Jussieu or Austerlitz

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