Tucked into the block adjacent to Les Archives nationales, Le musée de la Chasse et de la Nature may be the single strangest museum we’ve yet ventured into. Recommended by a book that we picked up on a lark (Naughty Paris, for values of naughty as defined by pearl-clutching midwesterners), I became a firmer advocate of going after seeing an featuring a Walton Ford work in one of the papers; I had no clue who Walton Ford was (as it turns out, he’s darkly hilarious and the both of us like his art), but, well, the picture caught my eye.
The museum itself is, as the name implies, dedicated to hunting. What’s strange however, is that it lacks the guns-and-hicks-and-pickup-trucks-and-booze that one would expect of a hunting museum were it located in the States. It’s not really hunting as the sole domain of landed patricians either, though it does lean more toward that direction, at least in terms of art (and the small amount of weaponry that was on display; those were certainly gentlemen’s arms). Instead, I’d argue that it’s hunting as seen from the standpoint of a Darwinian or (heavily Europeanized) Teddy Roosevelt; yes, one is shooting an animal, but you’re stuffing it and studying it and cataloguing it as well.
As someone who would quickly turn vegetarian if he had to kill and clean what he ate, it was all very strange, particularly when I realized that I wasn’t repulsed by the stuffed animals as it seemed that they’d been thoroughly studied and meticulously catalogued.
I don’t know if this is internally consistent or simply naively utilitarian.
Have some pictures from our visit.