Inaugurated in June 1938, the Musée de l’Homme focuses on the evolution of humans and human societies, combining biological, social and cultural approaches in keeping with founder Paul Rivet’s view that “Humanity is one and indivisible, not only in space, but also in time.” Located in the Passy wing of the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, a building originally constructed for the 1937 World’s Fair, it re-opened in 2015 after more than five years of closure for renovation, and reaffirmed the founder’s original vision for a laboratory museum.

A project unique in Europe, the new museum houses collections of prehistory, biological and cultural anthropology, a centre for research, higher education and training, and the dissemination of knowledge on the evolution of humans and human societies, all under the same roof. A place for discussion and open debate, it is the perfect place to broach major issues of interest to the human sciences. Visitors benefit from vast spaces devoted to current thinking on human life: the atrium, auditorium, resource centre, news hub, educational workshops, etc.

The permanent exhibition tackles three major themes through a variety of approaches, spanning the origins of humankind to our future: who are we, where do we come from, and where are we headed? The aim is to gain a better understanding of what it means to be human, of our origins and our place among other forms of life, and to explore our margin for adaptation to the world of tomorrow.

The visit abounds with the museum’s priceless collections: Cro-Magnon fossils, the Palaeolithic statuette known as the Venus of Lespuque, wax anatomical models, etc. The Musée de l’Homme prehistory and anthropology collections are among the world’s finest.

Learn more about the new Musée de l’Homme project

Key figures


200 people, including :

  • 150 researchers
  • 50 people in administrative staff

Surface area:

Total usable net area of the Musée de l’Homme: 16,000 m²

Spaces Open To The Public

  • Galerie de l’Homme: 2,500 m²
  • Temporary exhibitions: 600 m²
  • Reception, activities, events: 2,200 m² of which: Ground-floor welcome hall: 375 m2, Balcon des sciences: 320 m², Resource centre: 90 m², Auditorium: 165 m² - seats 152, Three lecture and study rooms: 180 m², Atrium: 400 m², Research library: 600 m²)

Spaces Reserved For Research and Study: 3,300 m² of which:

  • Research offices: 2,500 m²
  • Laboratories and technical facilities: 600 m²
  • Two classrooms: 180 m²


  • Storage: 1,300 m²


  • 1,800 m²

Circulation, technical facilities, miscellaneous:

3,700 m²



Total cost of renovations €92m (of which €12m for museum exhibition design) financed by French Ministry of Higher Education and Research. Structural restoration of Passy wing (glass-and-steel roof of main pavilion, windows, small courtyards, downspout, wind- and weather-tight terraces, exterior wheelchair ramp) financed by the Ministry of Culture: €4.6m for the Musée de l’Homme share.

Key events

1878: Construction of the Palais du Trocadéro for the Paris World’s Fair (Universal Exposition).

1882: Opening of the Ethnography Museum (Musée d’Ethnographie) in the Passy Wing of the Palais du Trocadéro.

1928: Naming of the anthropologist and American specialist Paul Rivet as director of the museum, who has it attached to the Anthropology department of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN), a department he chairs and renames “Ethnology of current humans and fossil humans.”

1937: Construction of the Palais de Chaillot for the new World’s Fair (International Exposition for Arts and Techniques).

1938: Opening of the Musée de l’Home in the Passy wing of the Palais de Chaillot.

1940: Formation of the Musée de l’Homme French Resistance network.

1953: Creation of the Ethnographic film committee.

2002: Official announcement of the renovation by the MNHN’s line ministries.

2004: Publication of the Mohen report under the title Le Nouveau Musée de l’Homme, published by Odile Jacob.

2003: Constitution of a renovation commission to work with Jean-Pierre Mohen on defining the scientific and cultural objectives of the new Musée de l’Homme.

2009: Closure of the Musée de l’Homme on 23 March, after an exceptional weekend with 25,000 visitors (with visits of the laboratories and reserves, encounters with the scientists, film projections, etc.) and launch of the renovation.

2015: Opening of the new Musée de l’Homme