'MUSEE NATIONAL DU MOYEN AGE' IN PARIS IN THE CONTEXT OF INTEREST IN MEDIAEVAL CULTURE IN FRANCE DURING THE SECOND HALF OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY AND THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (Polish title - below)
(Title in Polish - 'Musee National du Moyen Age' w Paryzu w kontekscie zainteresowan kultura sredniowiecza w drugiej polowie XVIII i w XIX wieku we Francji'). The last twenty years of the twentieth century marked the development of a scientific field studying all references to the Middle Ages recorded in the course of centuries. At present, research on the history of interest in mediaeval culture comprises an autonomous discipline. In this context, it is worth recalling the history of 'Musee National du Moyen Age' in Paris, informally known as 'Musee de Cluny'. The Museum dates back to the first half of the nineteenth century when Alexandre Du Sommerard (1779-1842) inaugurated the collections that served as a foundation for 'Musee des Thermes et de l'Hotel de Cluny', established in 1843. The Sommerard collection, featuring predominantly mediaeval monuments gathered since 1825, was truly exceptional for its time. Sommerard's writings convey information about his outlooks and activity. He was, i. a. a supporter of Alexandre Lenoir and his 'Musee des Antiquites et Monuments Francais', closed down in 1816. His son. Edmond Du Sommerard, together with Albert Lenoir, oversaw the new museum of mediaeval art founded in Hotel de Cluny, a fifteenth-century town residence of the Cluny abbots and the near-by ruins of second-third century ancient baths. The Parisian institution is classified among museums featuring Romantic exhibitions. Du Sommerard arranged his exposition in Hotel de Cluny, an original mediaeval building, by applied the setting of its interior. The manner in which the collection was displayed was meant to introduce the visitors to a truly mediaeval ambiance. At present, the copious collections are shown in 23 rooms of the Hotel de Cluny complex, the ancient baths, and buildings from the nineteenth and twentieth century. Special attention should be paid to the magnificent garden, established in 2000, part of the museum tour; its symbolic significance complements the contents of the collected works. The present-day 'Musee National du Moyen Age' collection encompasses more than 23 000 items, the most representative being: sculptures, the so-called Kings' Heads from the Kings' Gallery on the main facade of the Parisian Notre-Dame Cathedral, the tapestry series The Lady and the Unicorn as well as an extensive collection of items decorated with enamel from the Limoges workshops. Researchers regard 'Musee National du Moyen Age' to be the natural successor of Alexandre Lenoir's 'Musee des Monuments Francais'; at the same time, it became a source of inspiration for other European and American institutions: 'Museum d'Art de Catalunya', the Izabella Czartoryska collection in Pulawy, and 'The Cloisters Museum in New York'.
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