The Hotel de Guenegaud and the history of the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature
The Musee de la Chasse de la Nature translates to the Museum of Hunting and of Nature, and was first opened to the public in 1967, and it is located with the Hotel de Guenegaud, which is the only Hotel still standing in its entirety that was constructed by the architect Francois Mansart.
The Hotel Guenegaud
The Hotel Guenegaud at 60 Rue des Archives was designed by the architect Francois Mansart and constructed between 1651 and 1655 for Jean-Francois de Guenegaud Brushes, who was the secretary to the King.
Consisting of a main part with two wings and designed in the style most popular during the middle of the 17th century with the building itself overlooking the street, this mansion house is the only remaining building still intact, that was designed by Francois Mansart, however, this may not have been the case.
It was in 1703 that the mansion was sold to Jean Romanet who was a financier and he made many alterations and embellishments to the building, but by the middle of the 18th century, the Hotel Guenegaud passed to the Thiroux family and it stayed within their family until 1895, retaining all its original features.
But from the middle of the 19th century the Hotel Guenegaud became a place for many different commercial facilities and the mansion house gradually deteriorated, and although it became registered under the supplementary inventory of historical monuments in Paris in 1929, this was removed only four years later and by the 1950s the building was being threatened with destruction.
However, through the insight of the Minister of Cultural Affairs, Andre Malraux, the mansion house became registered as a historical monument in 1962 and was purchased by the city of Paris. It was one of the first Hotels to be restored, and then in 1964 the Hotel Guenegaud was rented out on a 99 year lease to the Foundation of the House of Hunting and Nature.
The history of the Musee de la Chasse de la Nature
Francois Sommer was introduced to the hunting culture before World War II and amassed a fabulous collection of books on the topic and he became an avid hunter himself, but then his passion also turned into an enlightened protector of wildlife.
Francois and his wife Jacqueline gradually turned to collecting a vast amount of different objects associated with hunting such as spears and crossbows through to ancient firearms, along with a fabulous collection of art and engravings all related to hunting and nature.
Now as you can imagine, they not only wanted to preserve their collection, but to provide an insight into the relationship of man and beast throughout the ages and how ideas have changed, but also how hunting has always played a role in society, and so they decided to set up a foundation in order to create a museum in Paris.
So with the support of Andre Malraux, Francois and Jacqueline Sommer made the Hotel Guenegaud the headquarters for the foundation and started to set up the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature, which first opened its doors to the general public in 1967.
When Francois died, Jacqueline continued the foundation also enriching the collection of the Museum of Hunting and Nature and then we she died in 1993, she bequeathed the museum and part of his personal collection.
But faithful to its original founders, the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature has continued to grow, enriching its collections, not just at this museum in Paris, but also at the Chateau Chambord within the Centre region of France.
Then in 2002, when the foundation realised one of the original wishes of Francois Sommer to expand further, they decided to acquire the Hotel Mongelas at 62 Rue des Archives and restore this mansion house, plus an auditorium has been constructed here as well.
So what with this newly acquired building, and the original Hotel Guenegaud with its museum that was completely refurbished in 2007, the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature is an unusual and fascinating place to visit whilst on holiday in Paris.