Most major natural history museums are known for housing rare and exciting pieces from history. From clay pots, to the bones of some of the oldest creatures to ever walk the Earth, there really isn’t anything quite like the walk through history visitors can take inside the world’s greatest museums.

The National Museum of Natural History in Paris, however, houses a slightly different sort of story. You see, the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle wasn’t always open to the public. In the 1960s, it was closed down for more than two decades. During that time, the contents inside were preserved, and the building was renovated.

When it finally reopened some years later, the result was a stunning museum that didn’t just house pieces of history: it was one!

In 1965, Paris’ National Museum of Natural History was shuttered. Instead of being totally abandoned, however, the items inside remained untouched for nearly 25 years.

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In the 1980s, the Zoothéque, an underground storage facility, was constructed beneath the Grand Galerie. There, many of the the taxidermic creatures could be housed, and the process of rejuvenating the museum could begin.


In total, the new facility housed 40 kilometers (or 24.8 miles) of animals, which should give you an idea of the museum’s massive size!


The Natural History Museum was finally on its way back to relevance.


After many of the animals were removed and restored, the building itself needed a facelift.


The museum didn’t just house history; the structure itself was history. Those working on the new version wanted to make sure that they incorporated that.


Taking stock of the impressive architecture, they began to deconstruct the galleries.


The rebuilding process, however, contained a few surprises…


For example, when workers were tearing down pieces of the atrium, they discovered brick arches beneath the floor. These would eventually be integrated into the modern museums design.


When the museum reopened, it was like stepping through a time portal.


Visitors can be captivated by all of the wonders of this amazing building once again.


And thank goodness for that!


A small percentage of the animals that were preserved in the Zoothéque were eventually moved back up to the museum.


The exterior of the building was as beautiful as ever, too.


Who wouldn’t want to take a stroll around here?


The renovated museum was chock-full of amazing curios!


Just look at this whale skeleton.


It’s wonderful that so much work went in to making this museum open to the public again!


Now, who’s ready to book their next vacation to Paris?


This would have to be the first place on anyone’s itinerary.


Thank goodness they decided to reopen it!


Who would have thought that a place with so much cultural value would sit untouched for more than 20 years? Thank goodness it’s open again! Now everyone can enjoy all of these fascinating pieces of history and nature.

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