Welcome to the chemical library

The chemical library of the National Museum of Natural History today refers to more than 1,950 natural products, compounds or extracts. These collections prove to be a powerful tool for scientific discovery and valorization, particularly in the competitive fields of understanding of life and drug design. These collections, available in the form of amorphous powder or in solution in 96-well microplates, are made available to the entire scientific community. The collection is managed by a team composed of chemists who are involved in the valorization of the results of screenings in partnership with the various research teams.


History of the collection

The National Museum of Natural History is one of the cradles of chemistry, since the Royal Garden created in 1626, from its origins under Louis XIII, presented medicinal plants, their uses and the search for active principles. Great discoveries such as the characterization of cholesterol by Chevreul in 1813 and the main fatty acids were carried out there. The samples are kept in the chemistry lab's collection room among many other molecules isolated over the last centuries.

The idea of ​​listing all the molecules of the French public laboratories was born in 1997 with the project to decrypt the human genome. Thousands of new proteins were then discovered but they had to be attributed a biological function. Chemists then had the idea to collect the "forgotten" molecules, chemicals, natural substances sleeping in their closets. This was the case of the chemists of the Museum who joined this national movement in 2006, collecting the historical molecules preserved in the collection room of the chemistry laboratory.

Today, the chemistry at the Museum is always focused on molecules of natural origin. It is oriented towards ecology, with the study of the natural substances involved in the interactions between micro-organisms and animal or plant organisms. Research is also carried out in the framework of international collaborations on medicinal or toxic plants, in order to discover the molecules responsible for the observed effects.



The chemical library is composed of 1950 molecules essentially natural historical products that give it a great diversity and a real originality. These products come from the Museum's collections and ongoing research. Each molecule is stored as an amorphous powder at ambient temperature and in solution in DMSO at -20 ° C.

The extract library consists of 422 extracts from higher mushrooms and specimens of marine invertebrates from the Museum's zoothèque. These extracts are stored in solution in ethanol and in DMSO at -20 ° C.

The natural products and extracts in solution in DMSO are packaged in the form of readily accessible 96-well plates for high throughput screenings. These collections are managed by the joint research unit MCAM (CNRS-MNHN).



The objective of this collection is to promote the scientific and industrial valorisation of natural compounds and extracts from the research laboratories of the National Museum of Natural History.

Our main task is to respond to requests for compounds or natural extracts made by research teams as part of a screening program. These collaborations are governed by confidentiality agreements (MTA), drafted in connection with the legal cell and the evaluation cell of the Museum.

The chemical library is regularly enriched with new natural or synthetic products resulting from the research work in progress in the unit.



Microplaque © Bruno JAY - Christine MAULAY-BAILLY

© Bruno JAY - Christine MAULAY-BAILLY

Champignons © Bruno JAY - Christine MAULAY-BAILLY

© Bruno JAY - Christine MAULAY-BAILLY

Molécule © Bruno JAY - Christine MAULAY-BAILLY

© Bruno JAY - Christine MAULAY-BAILLY
Published on: 28/11/2017 15:01 - Updated on: 22/05/2023 09:40