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Cluny Museum, Paris

Cluny Museum, Paris

The Musée de Cluny, also known as France's "National Museum of the Middle Ages", is famous for its magnificent collection of medieval artifacts. The building was raised over the remains of a Roman bath and was meant to serve as a private residence for the rich 15th-century abbot of the Cluny Abbey, Jacques d'Amboise. The other notable resident was Mary Tudor, widow of Louis XII.

The Cluny was rented in 1833 to Alexandre du Sommerard, an amateur art collector, who was fascinated with the Middle Age artifacts and owned an impressive collection of those and Renaissance period objects. Prior to his death in 1842, Sommerard had donated his entire estate to the people of France. A year later, the building was turned into a museum.

The Musée de Cluny boasts a finest collection of medieval European tapestries, including the original "Lady and the Unicorn" series made of wool and silk. Designed by French artists and woven in 1485-1500 in Flanders, this series comprises six scenes and covers the walls of an entire room, bringing to life the romance of the age of chivalry. Each of the scenes features a beautiful lady, a unicorn, and a lion. The backgrounds are filled with woodland creatures, plants and flowers, creating an enchanted landscape. Five of the scenes illustrate five senses: sight, touch, taste, smell and sound. The sixth scene is especially beautiful and intriguing. It carries a banner that reads, "To my only desire," and shows the lady placing a necklace in the case held by a servant.

Many early medieval sculptures, from the 7th and 8th centuries, are present in the museum as well. There are also works of gold, ivory, antique furnishings and manuscripts. Underneath the building is the ruins of the ancient Roman baths destroyed in the 3rd century, during the Barbarian invasions. The best-preserved part of it is the cold water bath. Another valuable remnant, believed to be the oldest sculpture in Paris, is the "Pillar of the Boatmen" from the 1st century AD.

All the medieval objects are beautifully lit and displayed, explanations in English are very good, and visitors can avail themselves of an audio guide.

Editor's Note:
Until the spring of 2021, the medieval hotel and the courtyard are closed for work. Since the new reception, you have access to a restricted visit including the frigidarium (free visit); all restored Gallo-Roman baths (guided tour); the Lady with the unicorn; a selection of 70 treasures from the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Mon: 9:15am-5:45pm; last entry: 5:15pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of Paris, France within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Cluny Museum on Map

Sight Name: Cluny Museum
Sight Location: Paris, France
Sight Type: Museum/Gallery
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

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