They have built up over a long period, across nearly five centuries. Today, the collections continue to expand thanks to donations, purchases, bequests, and in-the-field collections. But the majority of new additions are from gifts. To promote these contributions by donors over the centuries, a new permanent space, the Galerie Émile-Guimet, opened on the museum’s mezzanine in 2021.
To expand and better document its collections but also protect intangible heritage, the museum organises field missions. For instance, as part of a partnership with a number of Moroccan scientific institutions, entomological collection campaigns are organised every year. Since 2018, the museum has also organised a series of collection campaigns in the Amazon rainforest to update and add to its collection of Amazonian artefacts and further our knowledge of traditional know-how.
Every year, the museum welcomes a number of French and foreign researchers. It also works with other organisations on joint research projects. These projects help to further knowledge and raise awareness of the museum’s collections. A number of artefact loans and touring exhibitions organised by the museum teams also contribute to a wider recognition of the collection.
The museum’s Egyptology collection consists of approx. 4,900 artefacts and was mostly put together through the museum’s prospecting.
The palaeontology collection features nearly 240,000 selections, i.e. several hundred thousand specimens, mainly from French deposits.
The Musée des Confluences has a large collection of vertebrates, including stuffed animals, skeletons and even fluid-preserved specimens created by cabinets of curiosities back in the 17th century.
In addition to insects and molluscs, the Musée des Confluences has a vast range of collections representative of other invertebrate groups, the best known of which include sponges, corals, bryozoans, crustaceans, arachnids, myriapods, and echinoderms.
The collection focuses on two main sets of artefacts: the ethnographic collections, put together at the end of the 19th century, and the archaeological and pre-Columbian collections, which make up the majority and were acquired mainly between the late 19th century and the early 20th century.
The Arctic collections include artefacts from Northern Canada, Quebec, Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia, as well as Northern Europe.
It features 10,000 artefacts dating from the Bronze Age to the modern day, covering the whole continent
The African collection is currently formed of around 8,000 artefacts, plus ancient and contemporary photographs.