Gallery Of Evolution: Best Tips For Visiting In 2024

The Gallery of Evolution is one of several buildings that are part of the National Museum of Natural History of Paris, responsible not only for the development of research in this area but also for the dissemination of scientific culture.

Even so, the Gallery of Evolution, by itself, is included in the French Ministry of Culture’s list of Musées de France. The monument is located in the southwest part of the Jardin des Plantes (in the 5th arrondissement of Paris) and tells in a surprisingly excellent way how living beings evolved throughout history.

So, do you want to know more about the Gallery Of Evolution: Best Tips For Visiting In 2024? Keep reading!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Please read my disclosure & privacy policy for more information.

No time to read now? Pin it for later!

Gallery of Evolution
Gallery of Evolution

Brief History of the Gallery of Evolution

Conceived in 1635 by Jean Héroard and Guy de La Brosse, two doctors in the service of King Louis XIII, the original Jardin royal des plantes médicinales was renamed Jardin des plantes, right after the French Revolution.

In this sense, the Convention nationale decided to create the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle in June 1793, as a continuation of the Garden of Plants and a French institution for teaching, researching, and disseminating the scientific culture of Nature and Man.

With several tens of millions of specimens and objects in its heritage, the museum complex includes mainly gardens, greenhouses, museum galleries, and even a zoo, this only at its headquarters, the enclosure of the Garden of Plants. Still, the most important building of all is that of the Gallery of Evolution.

Other than that, the National Museum of Natural History extends not only to other parts of the capital – Musée de l’Homme (16th arrondissement) and Parc Zoologique de Paris (12th arrondissement) – but also to other French regions:

Jardin des Plantes

So, the Jardin des Plantes has been open to the public for more than 400 years and has a diversity of historical plants absolutely unique in France. First of all, it’s impossible to ignore its huge central section of beds with more than 600 varieties of plants, mixing colors, perfumes, and shapes.

In addition, there are several small gardens that form the Garden of Plants, one of the most visited being the Maze, for its magnificent viewpoint in the shape of a metal bandstand. Or, you can visit the Rose Garden with more than 170 species and varieties.

Next to the Greenhouses, there is the Botanical School, a plantation of vegetables adapted to the Parisian climate and organized according to their families and genres. Right next door is the Ecological Garden (available for guided tours) which evokes the biodiversity of four forests in Île-de-France, as well as five wild environments.

Likewise, between the Paleontology and comparative Anatomy Gallery and the Botanical Gallery you can find the Iris and Perennials Garden, which houses a collection of decorative perennials and climbing plants, among 150 varieties of irises. Free accessible, this garden is open every day from April to September, from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm (except on weekends and holidays).

Whether the Rock and Peonies Garden, featuring the great geological diversity of the planet, among Japan’s peony beds, or the Alpine Garden, with more than 2000 mountain plants from the Alps, Pyrenees, Caucasus, North America, and the Himalayas, among others, can also be visited.

In conclusion, you can visit the Garden of Plants free of charge and every day, from 07: 30 am to 5 pm (winter) and from 07:30 am to 7:30 pm (summer).

Practical Guide to the Gallery of Evolution

With 6000 m2 of space, the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution focuses mainly on biodiversity and the evolution of species, from the collections of 7000 species gathered over the centuries by the National Museum of Natural History.

First, the Grand Gallery of Evolution had the name Zoology Gallery, a monument designed by Louis-Jules André and inaugurated in July 1889. However, the importance of Natural History started to lose value in French society and the building began to deteriorate due to a lack of financial support for its maintenance, eventually closing its doors in 1966.

After decades of neglect, the gallery museum underwent a profound renovation and was reopened as the Grand Gallery of Evolution on June 21st, 1994.

Practical Information

The Gallery of Evolution is open every day (except on Tuesdays) from 10 am to 6 pm. Therefore, it only closes on January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th. Tickets cost €10 (full fare) or €7 (reduced fare), but there are combined tickets in the online ticket office.

For example, entrance to the gallery, with the Temporary Exhibition included costs €12 (full rate) or €9 (reduced rate). If you choose the museum with access to the Children’s Gallery, the price is exactly the same: €12 or €9. If you wish to visit the three different spaces, then you have a ticket at €14 (full rate) or €11 (reduced rate).

Among the groups of people who pay a reduced rate, there are young people under the age of 25, residents of the European Union. As for children under 3, they don’t pay entry. Finally, you can access the Natural History Museum by train or metro. The RER C suburban train stops at “Gare d’Austerliz”, as do metro lines 5 and 10. But you can also get off at “Place Monge”, “Censier-Daubenton” (line 7), or “Jussieu” (lines 5 and 7).

Ground Floor – Diversity of Living Beings (Marine Environments)

Firstly, the entrance floor illustrates the diversity of animal species that populate marine environments. In summary, the ground floor includes an Auditorium, a Shop, and seven collections:

  • Pelagic Environments – marine life in three-dimensional space
  • Arctic and Antarctic – ice “deserts” and surrounding oceans
  • Narwhal Space – place designed for children and families
  • Coast – environment influenced by light and tides
  • Coral Reefs – environment built by living organisms
  • Hydrothermal Vents – heat sources at the bottom of the oceans
  • Abyssal Plains – marine life in the cold, darkness, and pressure

First Floor – Diversity of Living Beings (Terrestrial Environments)

The first floor represents the same diversity of living beings, but now of terrestrial environments. In fact, there are eight exhibitions, together with educational rooms (such as “The Little Theater” and “The Studio”):

  • America’s tropical forests – animal species scattered in rich vegetation
  • African savannah – central section of the museum, decorated with an extensive parade of over 60 animals
  • France’s fauna, flora, and nature reserves – a collection of photographs presented in an interactive program
  • Arctic and Antarctic – a continuation of the ground floor
  • Sahara Desert – mineral landscape and living beings adapted to the lack of water
  • Species classification – a detailed reflection on kinship relationships between species
  • Collections and taxidermy – the origin of naturalized specimens
  • Children’s Gallery – playful space that teaches interactively biodiversity and the impact of man on the planet

In my opinion, the African savannah is the most fascinating section of the Gallery of Evolution!

Second Floor – The Man, Evolution Factor

Next and up a floor, it’s possible to see how human activities alter the natural course of biodiversity on our planet. In this way, there are ten different sections, divided by exploratory practices of the environment and arranged in an evolutionary perspective:

  • Introduction – the beginnings of ManHomem
  • Hunting, fishing, harvesting – species that disappear with these activities
  • Domestication – animals, and plants that are removed from their natural selection
  • Transports – species that colonize new ecosystems, because of human trave
  • Landscapes transformation – transformed natural landscapes due to human inactivity
  • Pollutions – increased pollution, associated with the production
  • “Everything gets complicated” – multiplication of activities and their effects
  • Endangered species, extinct species – unique naturalized specimens, extremely rare invertebrates, and historic herbariums
  • Dodo space – history of the most famous animal ever extinct
  • The planet today – the tomorrow of our planet

My special recommendation for this floor goes to the Endangered and Extinct Species Room, located in a more sheltered and melancholy area of the museum!

Third Floor – The Evolution of Life

The top floor of the Gallery of Evolution not only pays homage to the naturalists who contributed to the understanding of the history of life but also explains the mechanisms of evolution, in a total of six divisions:

  • Historical space – from the idea of transformism to the idea of evolution, with names like Comte de Buffon, Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck, Georges Cuvier, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, and Charles Darwin
  • “Reproducing and transmitting” – contributions from genetics to the theory of evolution
  • “Transmitting and selecting” – how natural selection influences the genetic structure of species
  • “Rebuilding history” – from paleontology, molecular biology, and comparative anatomy
  • “Evolution, again?” – results of genetics and molecular biology, which help to understand the evolutionary mechanisms
  • “In the footprints of living beings” – examples from the history of life: apparition, extinction, and conquest of Earth by plants and animals

Underground Floor – Temporary Exhibitions

Finally, the underground floor is dedicated to temporary exhibitions that are highly recommended. However, they require an independent ticket (or an additional supplement). When I was at the National Museum of Natural History of Paris, I visited Océan – “Une plongée insolite (Diving into the Unknown)”. This exhibition was transferred to the Marine Marine Station of Concarneau, shortly after being closed on January 5th, 2020.

What to See at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris

Central Library

Created after the French Revolution, the Bibliothèque centrale of the National Museum of Natural History of Paris is certainly one of the richest libraries of Natural Sciences in the world. This is because it houses a Cabinet of Curiosities that has been preserved since the 18th century!

These cabinets began to appear during the European Discoveries era (16th and 17th centuries) and were mainly rooms or offices for private collectors. These accumulated rather rare eccentric objects from the three branches of biology known at the time: animal, vegetable, and mineral.

As far as is known, these private collections could also include inventions and human instruments, sets of paintings and drawings, or mere curiosities and findings from the new Renaissance explorations.

Practical Information

The Media Library is open every day (except on Sundays), but at different times. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, it’s open from 9 am to 7 pm, while on Tuesdays it’s open from 1 pm to 7 pm. As for Saturdays, you can access it from 10 am to 7 pm and admission is free.

Access to the Research Library depends on prior registration, and the times also differ. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, it is open from 9 am to 7 pm, and on Tuesdays, from 1 pm to 7 pm. On Saturdays, it opens from 10 am to 7 pm, closing on Sundays and holidays.

Botanical Gallery

Constructed in 1935, the Galerie de Botanique building houses the National Herbarium, which is undeniably the largest and most complete in the world, with around 8 million samples taken from all continents!

Narrating almost four centuries of the history of world Botany, the museum has not only many remarkable specimens but also documents of incalculable value.

Practical Information

The Botanical Gallery is open every day (except on Tuesdays), from 10 am to 5 pm, closing on January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th. From March to mid-October, the museum closes an hour later (6 pm).

The single ticket includes the Greenhouses Itinerary and Botanical Walk and costs €7 (full fare) or €5 (reduced fare). As in the Gallery of Evolution, young people under the age of 25 and residents of the European Union pay reduced rates, and children under the age of 3 don’t pay admission.

Mineralogy and Geology Gallery

In this 1837 building of the National Museum of Natural History, more than 460 000 rocks and minerals are conserved, since many of them come from European royal collections.

After a thorough rehabilitation of the “Giant Crystals” Room, the Galerie de Minéralogie et Geólogie opened a sublime exhibition called “Trèsors de la Terre”, in such a way that it has been on display for several consecutive years.

As a result, it contains 600 of the most important specimens in the gallery, including giant crystals, meteorites, gems, and other precious objects.

Practical Information

The Gallery of Mineralogy and Geology is open every day, from 10 am to 5 pm, and from March to mid-October, it closes an hour later (6 pm). On January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th, the museum is closed.

The single ticket includes the “Trèsors de la Terre” exhibition, for the price of €7 (full rate) or €5 (reduced rate). As in the Gallery of Evolution, young people under the age of 25 and residents of the European Union pay reduced rates, and children under the age of 3 don’t pay admission.

Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy Gallery​

Since its opening in 1898, the Galerie de Paléontologie et d’Anatomie comparée has provided an absolutely sensational landscape of skeletons to its visitors.

In summary, the Comparative Anatomy Gallery shows the world of vertebrates on the ground floor. On the other hand, the Paleontology Gallery shows an extraordinary collection of fossils, both vertebrates, and invertebrates, on the first floor.

Just to exemplify, there are samples of dinosaurs, mastodons, and giant birds that are arranged in an evolutionary criterion similar to the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution.

Practical Information

You can visit the Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy Gallery every day (except on Tuesdays), from 10 am to 6 pm. The only days that it’s closed are the holidays of January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.

As for prices, tickets are at €9 (full fare) or €6 (reduced fare). And like the rest of the museums, young people under the age of 25 and residents of the European Union pay reduced rates, and children under the age of 3 don’t pay entry.

Greenhouses of the Garden of Plants

Entering the Greenhouse of Tropical Plants, we quickly immerse ourselves in a journey through distant lands, which helps us to recognize a complex, though fragile, plant world that needs to be preserved.

The Grandes Serres du Jardin des Plantes are divided into four biomes, that is, ecosystems or habitats: tropical forests, arid zones, New Caledonia (an archipelago in Oceania), and the history of plants throughout geological times.

The visit to the Greenhouses is included in the entrance ticket to the Botanical Gallery so that you can discover in a complete and detailed way the immense flora collection of the National Museum of Natural History of Paris.

Practical Information

The Greenhouses of the Garden of Plants are open every day (except on Tuesdays), from 10 am to 5 pm. From March to mid-October, they close an hour later (6 pm), closing only on January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.

The single ticket includes the Greenhouses Itinerary and Botanical Walk and costs €7 (full fare) or €5 (reduced fare). As in the Gallery of Evolution, young people under the age of 25 and residents of the European Union pay reduced rates, and children under the age of 3 don’t pay admission.

Zoo of the Garden of Plants

Today, this zoo created in 1794 is one of the oldest in the world, right after the Tiergarten Schönbrunn (in Vienna, Austria). The Zoo du Jardin des Plantes is called Ménagerie, that is, a private collection of animals living in captivity (generally, wild or exotic).

The Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes, spread over five and a half hectares of land, hosts 1800 animals of almost 200 species, such as mammals, birds, lizards, snakes, and insects. Therefore, the first animals were recovered from the old Ménagerie Royale de Versailles, founded in 1662 by King Louis XIV.

The main missions of the Zoo of the Garden of Plants are, above all, the conservation of animal species, research, and raising awareness of the preservation of biodiversity. There is a reason why there are no large animals, such as giraffes, elephants, and rhinos. All buildings in the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes are “historically protected”, which makes it impossible to expand or transform them.

Practical Information

The Zoo of the Garden of Plants is open every day of the year, although with two different schedules. In winter, it is open from 9 am to 5 pm (closed at 5:30 on Sundays and holidays). In summer, the hours extend until 6 pm (and at 6:30 pm on Sundays and holidays).

Tickets cost €13 (full fare) and €10 (reduced fare), while children under 3 don’t pay admission. Young people under 25 and residents in the European Union are one of the groups of people entitled to the reduced rate.

Share this blog post on your social media!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top