Fragonard Museum

Musée Fragonard de l'école vétérinaire d'Alfort Fragonard Museum of the Veterinary School of Alfort

The Fragonard Museum is the museum of the National Veterinary School located in Maisons-Alfort in the Paris suburbs. Created in 1766, it’s one of the oldest museums in France, this imposing and diversified collection of 4200 items relating to domestic animals is from the 18th century until the 1980s. The four rooms of the museum have been renovated in 2008 to rediscover the aesthetics and special atmosphere of 1902, when the museum moved to its current location.

Several collections are exhibited in the museum’s showcases through skeletons, wax casts, specimens in jars, stuffed animals, as well as paper models of Doctor Auzoux (which we have already discussed here). The first showcases are devoted to comparative anatomy, comparing body parts of different animals. This system is very useful for students to understand the anatomy of living beings. The pathology collection, in addition to the scientific aspect, also has a historical aspect, with hundreds of lesions and bone anomalies, some of which have disappeared thanks to better living conditions and scientific advances such as vaccines. Some showcases are also devoted to teratology, which is the study of malformations in living beings, these malformations are unfortunately still present in veterinary medicine. The museum has a rich collection of horseshoes, at a time when animals were used as the main traction forces, farriers and veterinarians invented hundreds of irons to improve their daily lives.

The first three rooms of the museum are already very rich and interesting, but the treasure of the museum is in the last room. Behind curtains, in a room at 18°C for the sake of conservation, hide the flayed skins of Honoré Fragonard. Cousin of Jean-Honoré Fragonard (the famous painter), he is professor of anatomy and the first director of the veterinary school. He made many anatomical pieces, between 1766 and 1771, for scientific and educational purposes. Because of their fragility and historical events these pieces are rare, only about twenty have come down to us, now classified as historical monuments.

The Fragonard Museum is definitely worth a visit!

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