Natural History Museum in Lille

Musée d'histoire naturelle de Lille Natural History Museum of Lille

The Natural History Museum in Lille was created in 1822, it was installed in the premises it still occupies today in 1896. It houses four major collections, two of which are currently kept in the reserves for lack of space. These are ethnography (about 15,000 objects) and science and technology (about 70,000 pieces), some pieces may nevertheless be visible during temporary exhibitions. The two collections exhibited in an architectural atmosphere of the 19th century are zoology and geology.

The zoology collection includes around 210,000 specimens: birds (more than 3,500), mammals, shells, as well as an insectarium presenting around thirty living species (we don’t really like the animals locked up here). Hanging in the large gallery you can see the skeletons of sperm whales, whales, or even fin whales, above scenes of stuffed animals, casts and reconstructions. Recently there is also a teratology showcase.

The second collection on display is geology, around 200,000 objects, which retraces 600 million years of geological history in northern France, obviously giving pride of place to coal. The large fresco on the back wall represents a Carboniferous landscape and dates from the beginning of the 20th century. You can also see a life-size iguanodon and a megalosaurus. The story of the discovery of the iguanodon is indeed linked to the exploitation of coal mines. In 1878, in the Belgian village of Bernissart, miners made a spectacular discovery: iguanodon bones, whole squeletons, and in large quantities. No less than thirty iguanodons will be reconstituted, the mine will remain closed for two years for the excavation of fossils. In addition to iguanodons: fossils of various plants, fish, insects, non-dinosaurian reptiles (crocodiles, turtles), as well as other animals will also be discovered. To learn more about this discovery, I recommend the Iguanodon Museum in Bernissart.

But let’s come back to the Natural History Museum in Lille, if today’s museum collections are so substantial and varied, it’s because the background is the result of the consolidation of several museums during the 20th century.

Here’s a preview !


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