Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris
The Musée des Arts et Métiers is a museum of science and technology housed in a former monastery in Paris’ 3rd arrondissement.
The museum displays the 80,000-piece collections of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (Cnam), a public school founded in 1794 to provide scientific and technological education.
Building – the Monastery of Saint-Martin-des-Champs
The Musée des Arts et Métiers is housed in the former monastery of Saint-Martin-des-Champs; the monastery was originally built in the 11th-12th century and modified repeatedly until its deconsecration during the French Revolution, and then partially converted into a museum in 1818. The most important building of the architectural complex is the Church of Saint-Martin-des-Champs, a beautiful Gothic-style chapel dating back to the first half of the 12th century.
The former monastery was restored in 2000 in order to better accommodate the museum, which at the same was completely renovated.
Exterior view of the choir of the medieval church of Saint-Martin-des-Champs in Paris; photo Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
Collection and permanent exhibition
The collection of the museum comprises machines, photographs, drawings, models, scientific instruments, tools, vehicles, and more. Most part of the collection is stored in a branch located in the city of Saint-Denis; a selection of about 2,500 iconic and historically significant pieces from the collection is presented in the Paris museum’s galleries.
The permanent exhibition is divided into eight sections: scientific instruments, materials, construction, communication, energy, mechanics, and transports; an additional section featuring large-scale objects is located in the chapel.
Objects on display in the galleries include a replica of the original Foucault pendulum, some of the first aircraft invented, several steam machines, the chemical laboratory of Antoine Lavoisier, the first calculator by Pascal, an 18th-century harpsichord-playing automaton, the original model of the Statue of Liberty by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, and modern supercomputers. Interactive digital exhibits provide additional information on the most important objects on display.
The large-scale exhibit gallery in the Saint-Martin-des-Champs chapel; on the right, the original model (1878) of the monumental Statue of Liberty in New York (whose original name was “Liberty Enlightening the World”) by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (a second, modern copy is installed outside the museum); photo Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
The program of events and activities of the museum includes temporary exhibitions, conferences, concerts, guided tours, and educational programs.
Fully accessible to physically-impaired people, the building of the Musée des Arts et Métiers also accommodates a documentation center, a photo library, a bookshop, and a cafe.
The “Hall of Energy” of the Muséee des Arts et Métiers in Paris; photo Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
Joseph Cugnot’s “Fardier à Vapeur”, 1770; widely considered as the first self-propelled vehicle in history; photo Gintaras Rumšas (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
The “Joueuse de tympanon” harpsichord-playing automaton by Pierre Kintzing and David Roentgen, 1784; photo Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
Interior view of the Saint-Martin-des-Champs with a replica of the Foucault pendulum, with which the French physicist Leçn Foucault experimentally demonstrated the Earth’s rotation in 1851; photo Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
Cover image the “Hall of Mechanics” of the Muséee des Arts et Métiers in Paris; photo Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
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