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Musée des Arts et Métiers Museum In Paris France

The Musée des Arts et Métiers is a museum located in the former Saint-Martin-des-Champs abbey in Paris that houses the collection of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers.

The Musée des Arts et Métiers is also known as The Museum of Arts & Crafts but this museum does not contain items that we would think of as being arts and crafts like we get today with hand made jewellery, cushions, quilts, etc.  In fact the museum is completely different and houses an amazing collection of gadgets and technical instruments from times gone by such as clocks, optics mathematical equipment and much, much more.

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Musée des Arts et Métiers Museum In Paris France

The foundations for the abbey church of Saint-Martin-des-Champs were laid around the time of the Norman conquest and then it got turned into a priory and over the next few centuries there were additions and renovations and the building was home to the Monks of Cluny during this time.  But with the French Revolution, many of the monks were beheaded and the abbey was deserted, yet the Abbot Henri Gregoire was saved when he submitted proposals for a depository for machines, models, etc, which was named the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers and created by decree in 1794 it officially opened in the priory in 1802.

The museum is still situated in the original site in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris France, but it also now includes another building adjacent, which hold numerous more exhibits and a lot of the smaller ones.

Having had a complete refurbishment and renovation works undertaken during the 1990's the Musée des Arts et Métiers is worth a visit just for the historical importance of the building itself, but the make-over has brought it into the 21st century with touch screens, yet still retaining the original character, with the wooden floors etc.

The museum has approximately 80,000 objects and technical documents, which detail inventions from the 16th century up to present day in areas such as telecommunications, mathematics, physics, optics, mechanics and so on, but there are only around 3,000 objects on display at any one time. 

However, the Musée des Arts et Métiers decided that their thousands of additional articles can be available to scholars and qualified researchers to study, even when they are not on display, and by appointment you can get to see these at their satellite facility in the town of Saint-Denis, which is just outside the City of Paris.

There are numerous fascinating pieces on display and probably the most prominent is Foucault's original pendulum, which is suspended in the cupola of Saint Martin des Champs, plus there are also items such as Pascal's adding machine, the Lavoisier laboratory precision balance that dates back to the 1700's along with more recent items like a formula one engine.

The permanent collection offers a journey through past and present techniques, plus you can get to see numerous other exhibits like a statue of liberty model, a variety of clocks, scientific instruments including even drift chambers and computers.

And there have been numerous inventions over the years that have completely changed the way we live today, so if you want to be able to see some of these life-changing devices, then this museum is an absolute must and probably one of the best places to visit, not just in France but in our opinion throughout Europe, yet do allow a good few hours to really appreciate this museum.

This is a great place to take all the family and the children will love it, but when you need to rest your weary feet, there is a cafe and also a library that is open at the same times as the museum.  There is also a photography department, but this is only open by appointment when prior arranged.

Everything is of course in French, so it is a very good idea to get an audio guide, which is available in quite a few different languages including English, Spanish, German, Japanese, etc.

The Musée des Arts et Métiers is open from Tuesday through to Sunday from 10am to 6pm but like many museums it is closed on a Monday and on national holidays.  There is a late evening every Thursday when the museum does not close until 9pm.

Address & Contact Details:

Musée des Arts et Métiers
60 Rue Réaumur

Telephone: 1 53 01 82 00

Postal Address:
292 rue Saint-Martin
Cedex 03 - France

Musée des Arts et Métiers Museum

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