Saturday, 2 June 2012

Cabinets of Curiosities, taxidermy, entomology and more. 

I particularly wanted to visit the famous house, Deyrolle  while in Paris this week,  as I loved the scene from Midnight in Paris which was shot in this unusual space.  The internal walls are washed in a colour somewhere between Wedgewood blue and eau de nil, providing a subtle backdrop for the timber cabinets and the curiosities. As I wondered amongst the life-sized mounted animals yesterday, I marvelled at the incredible recovery from the devastating fire in 2008 which severely damaged the Cabinets of Curiosities, many of the mounted animals,  the entomology room and a large part of the historical collections. This terrible fire resulted in  a world-wide effort of concerned contributors who helped  provide funds to restore and re-instate this wonderful house.  Taxidermy, curiosities, terrariums, etc were very much part of the Victorian interiors, and have been making a come-back of late.  
The Cabinets of Curiosities - now restored.
Housed on two floors of a beautiful building on Rue du Bac, and originating in 1831, Deyrolle has provided nature lovers, botanists, educational institutions, entomologists, designers and more,  a veritable plethora of real life examples of mounted animals, insects, butterflies, shells, natural wonders and historical collection pieces.   "The principle of Deyrolle was always to bring to  nature the sense of observation and description: ' an image is worth a thousand words', so if one wants to protect nature, one has to know it, understand it and understand the cycles of reproduction of species as well."  Today, the house is as beautiful as ever and a visit leaves one with a lasting memory of the history of these incredible undertakings and their reverence to nature. I particularly enjoyed seeing the exquisite wax vegetables and fruits which are uncannily life-like!  There is a variety of posters for sale in Deyrolle,   many of which are copies of those used for teaching purposes in days gone by.  

All of the photographs are my own for which I had to gain special permission as cameras are strictly forbidden in Deyrolle.    Chatting to a couple of their staff, the fire and the subsequent restoration was carefully explained to me.   The ground floor is dedicated to the pursuit of gardening.   Beautiful garden tools, leather gloves, many books, picnic bags and hampers, watering cans, hoses and much more are available.  I do hope you enjoy looking through these unusual photographs! 

This beautiful deer standing amongst the cabinets of curiosities - I love the tiger lying on top of the bureau!

Beautiful new panelling in the Entomology Room

To read more about this fascinating house see here

Since writing this post, I received a request from Deyrolle to use my photographs on their website!  

I also stumbled across The Evolution Store in New York - do 

do have a look  - fascinating too!


  1. This transports one to the days of Sherlock Holmes and his medical sidekick, who I imagine wandering around the Cabinets of Curiosities, keenly observing and deducing. If you love this sort of exhibition, you must visit the Glass Flower & Fruit display at the Harvard Natural History Museum. Created by Leoplod Blaschka & his Son, Rudolph between 1886 and 1936 (Yes, 5 decades!), it shows in glass what the Deyrolle House shows in wax ... truly not to missed if one is in the Boston area.
    I trust that the fellows at Deyrolle have now taken due precautions against a repeat of the 'Great Fire'; their collection is really irreplaceable.

  2. Wow Jenny...this is amazing! You are so lucky to have been able to take photos. Great shots as well. I passed this shop late on afternoon, it was closed. So happy now to know what it inside. Just wonderful!
    So glad you are enjoying your time in Paris.
    Jeanne xx

  3. Thank you Jeanne.. yes it did take a little persuasion but they were all lovely after the initial hesitation! It is the most fabulous space and I have just downloaded (rented) Midnight in Paris to watch it again now that I have actually visited Deyrolle!!

  4. Oh my goodness, this place is incredible! Great photographs Jenny.

  5. It really is fascinating Kristiina.. you should go when you get to Paris!

  6. What an amazing place! Thank you for 1. negotiating with them to allow you to take photos & 2. for sharing them with us. I feel like I'm along with you on your travels!
    p.s. I just love the shot of the blue butterflies.

  7. My favourite shot as well ! Thanks Krista.. it was such a pleasure being able to take those photos.. quite tricky though as the sun shone brightly through the big beautiful windows !

  8. These pics are wonderful! What a treat we are in for following your French life for the next little while, can we please have lots of market life.