The Museum of Arts and Crafts (French: Musée des Arts et Métiers) is an industrial design museum in Paris that houses the collection of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (National Conservatory of Arts and Industry), which was founded in 1794 as a repository for the preservation of scientific instruments and inventions, explore a one-of-a-kind repository of scientific and technical knowledge.
Founded in 1794 by Henri Grégoire, the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, “a store of new and useful inventions,” is a museum of technological innovation. The Musée des arts et métiers was refurbished in 2000, and now exhibits over 2,400 inventions. They are split into seven collections Scientific instruments, Materials, Energy, Mechanics, Construction, Communication and Transport.
Different types of discovery are available: guided tours or demonstrations by our scientific interpreters, a quick tour focused on the museum’s 150 “flagship objects”, an unrestricted exploration inspired by reading our “albums”, or one of three audioguide tours available in eight languages.
The Museum of Arts and Crafts is housed in the buildings of the former Royal Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs. Nationalized in November 1789, this considerable architectural ensemble was assigned to the Conservatory in 1798. The museum occupies the buildings housing the monks of the former religious community as well as the former priory church.
The whole was largely reorganized under the Monarchy of July and under the Second Empire, under the direction of the architect Léon Vaudoyer. A Neo-Gothic decoration thus dresses the nave and the choir of the old church. The former buildings (prior to the twentieth century) have been classified as historical monuments since 15 March 1993.
The collections of the Museum of Arts and Crafts currently have nearly 46,000 inventory numbers. This includes about 80,000 objects (including 20,000 photographs) and 15,000 technical drawings forming the “Industrial Portfolio” 6. Only about 2,500 objects are displayed in the galleries of the museum in Paris, the rest being preserved in specially designed premises that meet the standards of preventive conservation in Saint-Denis.
The first collections were gathered at the initiative of the French mechanic Jacques de Vaucanson. In 1752, the latter installed a mechanical cabinet at the Hotel de Mortagne, in the Rue de Charonne in Paris, where he gave demonstrations, notably with the objects he had designed and built, such as automatons. Some of them, such as the mill to organize silk or the weaving loom, are among the oldest collections in the Museum of Arts and Crafts. In order to promote the diffusion of technical knowledge formerly reserved for an elite and disseminated through corporations and trades, the Revolution will seek to make scientific and technical collections available to all citizens. After the National Museum of Natural History, formed from the former King’s Garden, the Conservatory of Arts and Crafts will bring together collections of aristocrats’ physics cabinets or the former Royal Academy of Sciences.
The galleries of the museum open their doors in May 1802. According to the idea of the Abbot Grégoire, demonstrators explain to the visitors the operation of the machines. The collection will regularly enrich itself, among other things through national exhibitions of the products of the industry or even universal exhibitions, where the Conservatory is generally present. The establishment of an experimental mechanical laboratory in the mid-1850s, the installation of a “machinery room in motion” in the former priory church and the development of technical teaching chairs will give the institution Opportunity to expand the scope of its collections. To the instruments of measure, always more precise, will be added models illustrating the industrial improvements (stationery, textile, arts of fire, civil engineering, printing, photography, cinematograph, telegraphy, broadcasting, electricity, railways, aeronautics …). At the beginning of the twentieth century, the institution hosts a museum for the prevention of occupational risks and the INPI, the National Office for Industrial Property. Transformed into the National Museum of Techniques in the late 1950s, under the impetus of the technical historian Maurice Daumas, the Museum of Arts and Crafts illustrated by the object all the industrial upheavals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Fallen into a certain indifference, the museum underwent a profound renovation between 1992 and 2000 during which a huge project of the collections (resumption of the inventory and study of the works) was initiated while the buildings were restored and reorganized by Andrea Bruno and Luciano Pia. The old reserves, located in the attic of the museum, are housed in a modern building of François Deslaugiers, in Saint-Denis.
The permanent exhibition of the Museum of Arts and Crafts is organized into seven thematic collections divided into four chronological periods (before 1750, 1750-1850, 1850-1950, after 1950): scientific instruments, materials, construction, communication, energy , Mechanics and transport. Additional presentations focus on particular points: the Lavoisier laboratory, the automaton theater, and the teaching models of Madame de Genlis. The ancient church presents, among other things, the experience of the rotation of the Earth using the Pendulum of Foucault.
Scientific instruments are represented by the collections of physics cabinets of Jacques Charles or Abbé Nollet to which are added the laboratory of Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier, the calculating machines of Blaise Pascal, the precision clocks of Ferdinand Berthoud , The instruments used by Léon Foucault to measure the speed of light, the cyclotron by Frédéric Joliot-Curie at the Collège de France, and several objects illustrating the progress of robotics.
The techniques of construction and manufacture of materials are represented by the manufacture of textiles, from Vaucanson to the mechanization of the end of the nineteenth century through Jacquard, the arts of fire (glassworks Émile Gallé and ceramics from the Manufacture de Sèvres And Murano glassworks), the development of metallurgy, the development of large-scale production processes (such as electroplating), the production of synthetic materials, etc. Mechanical and automation components are presented in XIXth century. On the construction side, we find the tools (carpenter, mason, stonecutter) and architectural models (wood frames, metal trusses, civil buildings, bridges) … The evolution of energy is presented by Marly’s machine , The Watt machine, the Volta pile and the first thermal engines, Diesel and nuclear.
The evolution of transportation and communications is exhibited with Joseph Cugnot’s fardier to the Ford T, from the Stephenson locomotive to the TGV, but also with hand press and satellites, with the development of mass printing , Broadcasting and television, photography and cinematography, mobile telephony and the Internet.
In the old church of Saint-Martin-des-Champs are presented the objects of greater volume: the pendulum of Foucault, the planes of Blériot and Breguet or the Scott steam engine.
Since 2010, the model of the Statue of Liberty of Bartholdi has been exhibited in the square of General Morin, the forecourt of the museum.
The Museum of Arts and Crafts has a reference center on the history of technology, offering a collection of approximately 10,000 monographs and 150 subscriptions to specialized periodicals. Collections of catalogs of builders are also kept, forming an original fund partially digitized and accessible via the Digital Conservatory of Arts and Crafts.
The photographic library of the Museum of Arts and Crafts preserves, manages and distributes a photographic reference collection in the history of science and technology. Constituted and enriched since the beginning of the twentieth century, this collection is the memory of the development of science and technology, from the sixteenth century to the present day. He is also a photographic witness to the history of places, events and scientific events.
The collections of scientific instruments, mechanics, materials, communication, construction, transport and drawings of the industrial portfolio, as well as exhibition sites, can be found in the image bank, following the example of the Holy Church -Martin-des-Champs, the theater of the Automata, or the staircase of honor, case of the plane of Clément Ader.
The museum offers general and thematic visits, accessible to individual or group visitors, as well as to schoolchildren. Thematic pedagogical workshops also help children to understand the collections. Four lecture cycles, which may take the form of lectures or debates within the Café des Techniques du Musée, contribute to the dissemination of scientific and technical information.