The Musée de l'Homme has inherited from the historical collections created as soon as the 16th century in cabinets of curiosities and in the Royal Cabinet. These exhibitions would be enriched during the 19th century and still are today. Its aim is to gather in one site everything which may aim at defining the human being: man in his evolution (prehistory), man in his unity and diversity (anthropology), man in his cultural and social expression (ethnology).
The most part of the "ethnographic exhibition" from the Musée de l'Armée of the Invalides, as it was then called, composed of dummies representing people from the colonies, along with weapons and equipment, was transferred there in 1910 and 1917 . Photos of the Moroccan population, taken by Clérambault, were also displayed there.
The brain of René Descartes, a scientist, mathematician, physicist, and philosopher also resides in this museum; as well as the skull of Suleiman al-Halabi (1777-1800), a Syrian student who assassinated the General Kléber.