Musée des Arts et Métiers

Musée des Arts et Métiers (37)

The Museum of Arts and Trades, or Arts et Metiers in French, is one of the most curious and enjoyable in Paris.

Situated at number 60 Rue Réaumur it is housed in the old abbey of Saint Martin des Champs, founded in 1060. Here you will also find the first groin vaults in Paris. The monks’ refectory, the old dining room, today a library, seems to be the work of Pierre de Montreuil, architect of the Sainte-Chapelle and chief of works of Notre-Dame.

The museum was created in 1794 during the Revolution as the “Conservatory of Arts and Trades” and had to be, literally, “a storeroom of machines, models, tools, drawings, descriptions and books about all the arts and trades”. 

For its 200th anniversary, in 1994, several projects were undertaken to commemorate and boost the museum, among which we would highlight the remodelling of the nearby metro station, work of the designer Françoise Schuiten. If you go there, you will sense you are in the middle of the industrial revolution. Made almost entirely in copper, with large tacks and reels, it is a leap in time that recalls a technical and industrial universe, a bridge between the city and the museum itself.

The full collection of the museum comprises some 70,000 objects distributed in different areas: scientific instruments, materials, construction, communications, energy, mechanics, transport and church. Among these objects you can admire Lavoisier’s laboratory or Charles’s physics laboratory or that of Abbot Nollet.

The fact is the main inventions of humanity since the 16th century are represented here. You cannot miss the first automobile, designed by Cugnot in 1770, or the plane, by Clément Ader in 1897.

Additionally, several of these objects can be turned on to be able to see and understand first-hand how they work. All in all, a great experience to be had here.

We also recommend you see the automat theatre, with dolls and automats from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Get information in advance and book your place, because these free demonstrations are only for small groups.

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