Museums represent the planetary repository of mankind’s heritage. In museums, collections are stored, cataloged and preserved over time, making them inestimable treasures. They constitute a material available for research, which can also be completed and reinterpreted over centuries. They permit to have access to all the wonders of the natural world. And behind these treasures, hides the willingness of curious individuals.
In France, we can trace the enthusiasm of having a national treasure back to François the 1st, who founded the French Crown Jewels in 1530. In the Europe nobility, “curiosity cabinets” were fashionable from the 16th century on. King Louis the 13th created his own in 1633, which eventually became the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle after the French Revolution. With this presentation, we will embark on a journey through French national collections and collectors of minerals and gems. From one museum to the other, we will discover some iconic pieces, as well as some hidden ones. We will follow the stories of some curators such as the Abbot Haüy (first curator at the Ecole des Mines) or some collectors such as de Bournon, Sage or more recently Vésigné.