If you can get over the fact that it’s a museum dedicated to hunting, this small museum makes for a pleasant outing. You’ll find the expected taxidermied animals, but they are discreetly presented among an elegant collection of paintings, tapestries, sculptures, and even contemporary art. Each room has a theme: For example, the blond wood-paneled Salle Cerf et Loup takes on the imagery of the stag and the wolf, illustrated in paintings by artists as disparate as Renaissance-era Lucas Cranach and 20th-century fauvist André Derain. The emphasis is not so much on the kill, as the symbolism behind the images: In the Middle Ages, the stag, which represented Christ, and the wolf, which represented the Devil, could coexist, a theme that is echoed in the 16th- and 17th-century tapestries that cover the walls. Once you’ve sauntered through rooms dedicated to dogs, birds, horses, and even unicorns, you will walk smack into the trophy room, where discretion is abandoned and hunting is blatantly celebrated in all its gory glory. Intricately inlaid rifles and the heads of various exotic animals bring you back from the celestial spheres of the intellect. Still, there is something intriguing about this place; it reminds you that the relationship between humans and animals dates to way before there were naturalists and environmentalists, and if that relationship was filled with animosity and fear, it was also tinged with a sort of mystical respect.
- Margie Rynn