E. C. Spary traces the scientific, administrative, and political strategies that enabled the foundation of the MusÃ©um, arguing that agriculture and animal breeding rank alongside classification and collections in explaining why natural history was important for French rulers. But the MusÃ©um's success was also a consequence of its employees' Revolutionary rhetoric: by displaying the natural order, they suggested, the institution could assist in fashioning a self-educating, self-policing Republican people. Natural history was presented as an indispensable source of national prosperity and individual virtue.
Spary's fascinating account opens a new chapter in the history of France, science, and the Enlightenment.
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