The Cognacq-Jay Museum; a step back into the 18th century
Category Exhibitions and Museums
A five-minute walk from our Hotel des Tournelles in the Marais, the Musée Cognacq-Jay invites you to rediscover the 18th century via that period’s works, paintings and sculptures. The culture and lifestyle of the time are also revealed through items of furniture and period objects.
The Cognacq-Jay Museum; the story of a couple
Do you know where the name of this museum dedicated to the 18th century comes from? It was named after its founding couple, Ernest Cognacq and Marie-Louise Jay. Ernest Cognacq was the founder of the large Paris department store La Samaritaine, but he also left his mark on the great Parisian museum heritage. Prior to his death in 1928, he decided to bequeath to the City of Paris his collection of art from the Age of Enlightenment, acquired during the last thirty years of his life. The couple had successfully climbed the social ladder and wished to share their good fortune by giving the public free access to their exceptional collection.
The collection was first housed in a building adjoining the Samaritaine de Luxe on the Boulevard des Capucins before being transferred to its current location in the Marais in 1990. The museum regularly acquires new pieces to be integrated harmoniously into the collection to maintain its vision of the 18th century in France.
The art of living, 18th century style
The 18th century was considered a cultural and artistic high point by the bourgeois society of the Belle Epoque. As a man of his time, Ernest Cognacq accumulated works of art as well as furniture and other objects that represented a subjective view of the domestic interiors of the 18th century as perceived from the early 20th. Family portraits, intimate objects (snuffboxes, jewellery cases, etc.), dressers, sofas and other items that filled the homes of that time helped to stimulate conversation and sociability, essential values of the high society of the Age of Enlightenment that were taken up by the cultivated circles frequented by men like Ernest Cognacq. The museum's collection is thus presented in rooms replicating those of the period, an approach inspired by the nearby Carnavalet Museum. Since 1990 the Hotel Donon, a 16th century mansion in the Marais, has fulfilled this essential function.
A museum in the heart of the Marais
The Musée Cognacq-Jay is located just a five-minute walk from the Hotel Les Tournelles. It is housed in a beautiful stone-built mansion of classic style. Please note that the permanent collections of the museum are accessible for free. If you buy the Paris Museum Pass, you will also be able to freely visit the temporary exhibitions of all the capital’s museums (except the Catacombs and the archaeological crypt of the Île de la Cité). Take the opportunity to explore the district’s other superb attractions such as the Maison de Victor Hugo, the Picasso Museum and the Place des Vosges.
Photo credit : © Siren-Com
Hotel Les Tournelles, a 3-star hotel in the heart of the Marais