National History Museum, Saint-Denis

Created by the Compagnie des Indes, the Jardin d'Acclimatation housed the neoclassical building of the Palais Législatif, which became the Natural History Museum in 1855.

This is where we can find a rich collection of past and present fauna of the Indian Ocean islands as well as rocks and minerals. Temporary exhibitions regularly complement the permanent collection.

The first curator of the Museum, Auguste Lantz, was able to develop an important collection, notably from his personal travels in the area.

"We have a clever helper in Mr. Lantz, our new curator, whose zeal is beyond praise. The trips he has made in recent times have much contributed to increase our wealth. In his last trip to Madagascar, he was able to collect and prepare, in less than three months, more than 900 birds.” (Album de l'île de la Réunion, vol. V, p 9).

The Museum's collection has been enriched over the years, in particular thanks to a policy of acquisition and exchanges carried out mainly with museums in the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean region. This practice has been accentuated since 1992 and has thus enabled the collection to be enriched considerably.

The permanent collection

On the first floor of the Museum, the fauna of the islands of the Western Indian Ocean can be discovered.

Three areas are dedicated to permanent exhibitions: the Lantz room, the Mezzanine and the Lacroix room.

The Mascarene Islands are revealed, with the current fauna on the one hand and the extinct fauna that has become mythical on the other hand (the Dodo of Mauritius, the Solitaire, the Tortoise and the Huppe de Bourbon...). This is how you will be able to make your imagination travel to the South Seas with the birds and to Madagascar to meet the lemurs.

The Lantz Room

Here you will find one of the most complete collections of lemurs in the world. You will learn all about their evolution, their geographical distribution and their adaptation to their environment. 

Don't leave the room without admiring the real living fossil, the Coelacanth of the Comoros, the ammonites and fossil fish of Madagascar.

The Mezzanine

This part of the Museum presents the fauna of the Malagasy natural environments and the seabirds of the western Indian Ocean. Various objects are presented in four showcases such as naturalized birds, casts of reptiles, amphibians and insects.

Another showcase is dedicated to Madagascar. Its aim is to make visitors aware of the dangers threatening Madagascar's biodiversity, such as deforestation and hunting. They can also learn more about the conservation actions implemented on the big island. This showcase includes remarkable and endangered species, such as the Aye Aye, the Madagascar crested Ibis and the Madagascar Eagle.

The last showcases are devoted to the seabirds of the western Indian Ocean. The Barau's Petrel, Baillon's Shearwater and the Pacific Shearwater from Reunion Island, the Pacific Frigate from the Eparses Islands, the tern colonies of the Seychelles and finally, the Red-footed Booby and the Masked Booby from Tromelin Island can all be seen. 

The Lacroix Room

The current and extinct fauna of the Mascarene Islands constitutes the permanent collection of this room. We appreciate the staging chosen for present-day species such as Pétrels de Barau. We see them evolving in different natural environments in Reunion, from the top of the Piton des Neiges to the sea. This gives a very realistic view of their living environment and also of the problems that certain species may face.

For the extinct or endangered fauna, the choice was made for a more sober presentation, with the background of the showcases where the animals are displayed, a background in the style of an old engraving.

Tips for your visit

ITC Tropicar, the first local car rental agency in Reunion, is keen to help you discover the history of the island. Tourist outings can therefore also include a visit to one of France's first 13 museums.

Direct access is via rue Poivre, where you can park your rental car for free in complete peace of mind.

The Natural History Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, including public holidays except May 1st. 

Normal rate 2 € (for children)
Reduced rate 1 € (senior citizens - Groups of 10 people by reservation)
Access to the museum is free on the first Sunday of each month.

Exempted from the fee:
Under 18s, school groups, students, CMU beneficiaries, the disabled, members of national or international organisations working in the field of museums (ICOM, OCIM, UNESCO), associations of people in training, holders of the PASS Loisirs, the press.

The Museum is at the end of the beautiful Jardin de l’Etat, so you can also enjoy a walk in the garden before or after your visit.

Tel: 02 62 20 02 19 Fax: 02 62 21 33 93      email:

The district offers several places to eat, local or metropolitan cuisine, simple or gastronomic, you just have to choose.

ITC Tropicar will accompany you and advise you on the best places to visit.