Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Fight to Save Paris' Deyrolle, Paris' Own Naturalia Shop cum Natural History Museum

There is a wonderful story in the New York Times about the famous Deyrolle of Paris--likened to a natural history museum where one could buy nearly everything--and the aftermath of its recent destruction by fire.

Deyrolle, founded in 1831 by well-known entomologist Jean-Baptiste Deyrolle, has for over a century been a Parisian institution for locals and tourists alike. Part taxidermy shop and part museum, Deyrolle displayed its epic taxidermy, fossils, butterfly collection, shadow boxes and bell jars in Victorian, wood-cased splendor. Last February, a fire sparked by a short circuit destroyed 90% of the collection.

Impressively, the many fans of Deyrolle have gone to great lengths to save the institution and help restore it to former greatness. A Mr. de Broglie has created a "Friends of Deyrolle" organization to solicit donations of stuffed animals and other naturalia from private and public collections. As Mr. de Broglie explaiend, “Deyrolle was the place in Paris you’d first come as a child, then later bring your friends, then your fiancée, then your own children and your grandchildren. How could people close their eyes and let it disappear? It would have been impossible.”

Other measures, public and private, have been put into effect. Provincial French museums are being contacted in search of old wooden cases, fashion house Hermes reissued a limited-edition scarf to benefit Deyrolle, and many individuals have donated treasured items from their own collection--some of which were even objects purchased at Deyrolle to begin with. The publishing house Gallimard released a a history of Deyrolle with a preface by French novelist Pierre Assouline whose sales would benefit Deyrolle, and Christie's auction house held an auction hosted by the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature which raised $333,000 by auctioning off artworks by artists such as Jan Fabre and Mark Dion. The public has come together, in a touching and effective way, to save and restore this threatened Parisian institution.

To read more about it, see the original article. To see more images, visit the slideshow on the New York Times website.

Thanks to Jim and Eric for sending this along!

All images from the New York Times Slideshow. Top image is pre-fire, bottom is post-fire.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post on a wonderful place. You'll be happy to learn that Deyrolles has already reopened three of its show rooms, thanks to the support of all its well-wishers. I may be mistaken, but M. de Broglie might well be the present owner of Deyrolles.

Anonymous said...

(Sorry to be posting again... Just to add this (, which should be linking to Wes Anderson chez Deyrolle.)

rp said...

I was sad to read this post, as a fan of Deyrolle posters. I have a large collection of original posters printed by Deyrolle.