Treasures from the depths


The true nature of a treasure is that it is carefully preserved, often far from sight. 

The one in question here is largely made up of pieces from Prince Albert I’s explorations. Specialists and researchers can gain access, as well the visitors to the Museum, during the exhibitions which showcase these precious finds.


When we admire an object in the display cabinets of the Museum, we don’t doubt that we are only looking at the tip of the iceberg.
Tens of thousands of objects are indeed stored in the historical collections.

They have all been referenced with the greatest of care and sometimes come out of thier hiding place to be shown to the visitors of the Museum.
Visitors are right to feel honoured to see a part of this unique resource which really shows the deep knowledge and understanding of the oceans that man has gained.

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The exhibition rooms and storehouses of the Musée Océanographique boast a priceless collection of heritage pieces.

The biggest of the collections is the one which includes natural history specimens: algae, plants, invertebrates, fish, reptiles, cetaceans, birds, fossils, rocks and other objects from the sea bed…
Most of them were collected by Prince Albert I during his 28 oceanography explorations between 1885 and 1915, from the Northern Atlantic Ocean to the Arctic.

This adds a historical element to the scientific interest of the collections. Some specimens are extremely rare pieces of evidence of extinct species.

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This natural history collection compiled by Prince Albert I himself has been added to by a number of donations and acquisitions over a period of more than one hundred years.

Other renowned expeditions have added to the wealth of this heritage stock, such as those of the Challenger, Travailleur and Talisman, Pourquoi-Pas ? and Scotia, and more recently, the Calypso (1961-1982), the famous oceanography vessel of Captain Cousteau.

Other prestigious institutions such as the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris or private collectors have also contributed to the growth of the collections, including the thousands of shells and fossils collected by Edouard Claudon and acquired in 1909.

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This rich collection has tens of thousands of pieces and a large number of them are “type” specimens which are pieces that serve as models for the description of a new species, identified for the first time.

Every year, researchers from all over the world view our collection, very often remotely, and sometimes they make the journey to see for themselves our Temple of the Sea. To support their own work, they have access to the whole of our stock and can use the pieces for analysis and comparison purposes.

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