Deyrolle was founded 177 years ago by Jean-Baptiste Deyrolle, an eminent entomologist, but recently a short circuit triggered a fire in the shop. The disaster has galvenised a Parisian-style rescue effort.
French soldiers on a routine patrol smelled the smoke and tried to secure the building. They were joined by dozens of firefighters and hundreds of police officers in battling the blaze. The French Army opened one of its nearby military depots as a warehouse for the burned animals and objects.
Christine Albanel, the minister of culture, sent out an all-points bulletin to the provincial museums of France for the donation of classic wooden display cases.
Hermès reissued its “Plumes” scarf in a limited edition to raise money. Gallimard, the publishing house, joined in the fund-raising by releasing a slim history of Deyrolle with a preface by the French novelist Pierre Assouline. One French woman donated 50 boxes of butterflies. A Frenchman gave back the head of a bull he had bought at Deyrolle a few months before.
Ninety percent of the shop’s stock, including most of the animals, a celebrated fossil collection, an antique skeleton of a Nile perch and a 19th-century diorama of more than 100 birds, was lost. The dark-wood cabinets that housed birds, butterflies and beetles went up in flames.
Artists and photographers who had drawn inspiration from one of the most celebrated taxidermy sites in the world donated their works. Christie’s Europe offered to sell those items as a fund-raising auction, waiving its commission along the way.
Since the fire, some of the rooms in the multistoried, 4,300-square-foot space have been reopened. The back corridors still smell of smoke, but new animals are slowly moving in: a giraffe, a lion, an ostrich, a camel, a zebra, a tiger, a peacock, among many others. It lives!
With thanks to Jessica Joslin for flagging and no thanks to Sophie and Nick.
Source: New York Times.