Built in 1898 for the National Exhibition of Paris in 1900, the 3 storey hall housing the Gallery of Comparative Anatomy and Paleontology is a sublime relic of Victorian-era science. With many important specimens on display such as the marsupial wolf, as well as the skeleton of Louis XV's rhinoceros, the displays strive to present direct comparison between bone structures, making similarities between species more obvious and evolutionary adaptations for land, sea and air apparent.
Many of the original labels are intact as are earlier mounting, repair and extension techniques. The hand of the collector is very apparent here, making, for me, the specimens more accessible and interesting than if placed in a more clinical environment. However, the excess also brings to mind many extinctions that occurred because of the frenzy for collecting specimens in the 19th century. The 3rd floor houses an extensive collection of gastropods and fossils accompanied by hand painted and collaged diagrams that would be the envy of many a mid-century-modern-styled living room. Water damage, peeling paint and a general shabbyness throughout didn't seem to deter a healthy number of guests and seemed appropriate alongside so many relics.