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Extraordinary fauna

From the Middle Ages on, owning unusual animals was a mark of wealth to which, from the Renaissance onwards, the lords of Chantilly aspired to.
From the end of the 16th century to the end of the 18th century, the Domain belonged to the Montmorency and Bourbon-Condé families. For entertainment and to quench their curiosity, they introduced – first in the grounds of the château and then in one of the most extraordinary menageries in the kingdom – exotic and native animals to embellish the gardens and enhance the owners’ image.
View of the Château de Chantilly (between 1660 and 1673)/© RMN-Grand Palais


The herds gradually grew larger, to the extent that at the end of the 17th century, it was clearly vital to construct a specific place for them, a menagerie at least as worthy as that of Louis XIV in Versailles. At the crossroads between zoology, wildlife architecture, art and scientific curiosity, it became an integral part of 17th and 18th century cultural and social life until it began to gradually disappear in 1792.

Following on from the exhibition on the Orangerie of Chantilly in 2017, the archives department is now resuscitating, at the intersection between history, natural history and architecture, another part of the grounds that also contributed greatly to the renown of the château and its owners from the 16th to the 18th century.

Visitors can discover rare and unpublished documents from the Chantilly archives and library, the Condé Museum, or on loan from the Library of the Institut de France and the National Natural History Museum. The exhibition unveils the multiple sources of historic work and the difficulty entailed in its reconstitution.

The public can prolong their exploration of the Domain’s wildlife history by viewing the singeries in the Condé Museum, or admiring some paintings or porcelain objects in a new light. Younger visitors can also participate in special activities on the theme of animals and the collection.


Useful information

Venue: Château /the Reading Room


Exhibition included in the 1-day ticket with no extra charge


Florent Picouleau, Archives manager at the Condé Museum.


The exhibition benefits from the support of: