I recently had a wonderful adventure in Paris' Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (the Natural History Museum). Long-time readers will know I have a fondness for such collections, especially those in the Victorian vein.
The institution has a long and esteemed history. Founded in 1793 it survived the French Revolution and has been chaired my many eminent minds like Cuvier (the paleontology pioneer). It is also, more awesomely, embedded in French pop culture as the home of a not-so-fossilised pterodactyl's egg in Les Aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec.
The collection exceeded my expectations. Now only does the museum house a broad range of specimens, the building is a Steampunk's dream. The exposed iron girders are studded with rivets and the cabinets are of aged wood with ornate decoration. The polish and sparkle of London's museums is eschewed and the dull grey wash on the stone walls has been left to peel and fade adding a patina to the place. All this is topped off by some amazing calligraphy on the hand-written specimen labels.