Why collect? Which nature? Who are the collectors? Why and for whom? Do we collect to dominate the natural world? Or to learn about it and preserve it?
Museum collections are the result of many different personal and collective choices. However, the way Western societies view nature is changing. The quest for completeness is an unachievable goal, and the desire for accumulation for its own sake can no longer be an objective. When public collections acquire samples and specimens, they take these new contexts into account.
Faced with the erosion of biodiversity, museum collections represent an irreplaceable asset whose scientific and educational interest is now being rediscovered. As materials for informing and educating the public, they contribute to a shared thought process about the place of the human species within the living world and our impact on the environment.
The exhibition is divided into three parts.
The first part introduces the act of collecting and explores who the collectors are, what motivates their interest and what they collect.
The second part demonstrates how collections of natural objects or naturalia have contributed to amassing knowledge about nature conservation and discusses public collections, how they are assembled, what they mean and what role they play. It presents testimonials from donors of recent collections. It also calls on the need to pass them on in light of the heightened threat to biodiversity and the associated challenges this brings.
The third part is participative and involves members of the public who will give their own perspective on nature through photos from the collection organised in spring 2021. It also features a display that will be filled, week on week, by visitors who will have to choose which specimens they feel are the most relevant in terms of raising awareness on the role and importance of species that may be under the radar but nevertheless essential for maintaining balance in the environments they inhabit.