A visit to the Museum of Arts and Crafts

2 January 2024
Category Exhibitions and Museums
A visit to the Museum of Arts and Crafts

In the heart of the Marais district, the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts) is a special place. A higher education and research establishment renowned throughout the world, it is also open to the public. With its magnificent buildings dating back to the Middle Ages and its superb technical museum, it invites you to immerse yourself in some fascinating history, about twenty minutes on foot from the Hôtel Les Tournelles.


A place steeped in history

Founded by the revolutionary leader and Catholic priest, Abbot Henri Grégoire, under the National Convention in 1794, the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers holds within it all the innovative spirit of the French Revolution. It was intended as an educational establishment where the technicians and engineers who would help build the brand-new Republic could be trained. To assist in this training, various models and prototypes of scientific machines and tools were assembled. This approach has continued to this day, resulting in the creation of an impressive museum collection. Today, these wonders can be admired during your visit. What’s more, the setting of the Musée des Arts et Métiers is itself well worth a look. Right from the beginning, the CNAM has been housed in the buildings of the Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs. Founded in the 11th century, this religious establishment continued to expand over the centuries. You can visit the priory’s very beautiful church, a rare survival of the Romanesque style in Paris, as well as the other surviving portions of the former monastic complex and see their exquisite architectural details.


Impressive collections

In keeping with the conservation mission of the CNAM, the Museum brings together numerous prototypes of machines, touching on all areas of industry, as well as very rare scientific artifacts. From the earliest aircraft to phonographs, from the movie projection equipment of the Lumière brothers to Pascal's calculating machine, including a 16th century astrolabe and Foucault's Pendulum, you will view the centuries through the prism of technical and industrial progress. For more detailed information, check out the museum’s programme of workshops and guided tours. These will allow you to see the machines in action, or even put your own engineering talents to use. Some workshops are specifically aimed at children. Finally, if you find yourself pressed for time, don't miss the ‘not boring ¼ hour’, which humorously but precisely answers various fascinating scientific or unusual questions, such as: How is sound captured? What is needed to fly? and How do I ride a bike while wearing a dress?


During your stay at the Hôtel Les Tournelles, why not discover the many treasures of the Marais district? In addition to the concept stores, the National Picasso Museum and the Carnavalet Museum, you’ll discover other charming places that are exciting for children and adults alike, such as the Musée des Arts et Métiers and the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers.


National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts

Photo : Hagen411


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