National Archaeological Museum (France)

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National Archaeological Museum
Chateau de St Germain-en-laye.JPG
National Archaeological Museum (France) is located in France
National Archaeological Museum (France)
Location within France
Established 1862
Location Place Charles de Gaulle
78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Coordinates 48°53′52″N 2°05′46″E / 48.89778°N 2.09611°E / 48.89778; 2.09611
Website Official website

The Musée d'archéologie nationale is a major French archeology museum, covering pre-historic times to the Merovingian period. It was named Musée des antiquités nationales until 2005. It is located in the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye in the département of Yvelines, about 19 km west of Paris.


The château that houses the museum, which was in very poor condition, was classified as a monument historique on 8 April 1863. The interior was a maze of cells, corridors, false floors and partitions. The exterior was dilapidated and covered in a black coating.[1] The architect Eugène Millet, a pupil of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, was assigned the task of restoring the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1855, and was told to remove all traces of the cells that the Ministry of War had installed when it was used as a prison between 1836 and 1855. In 1857 he reported that all the partitions forming the cells and dungeons had been demolished and the rest of the chateau had been cleaned.[2]

Millet was given the job of restoring the château to hold the planned National Museum of Antiquities. Work began in 1862 with the destruction of the West pavilion.[2] Eugène Millet died in Cannes on 24 February 1879.[3] The restoration was continued by Auguste Lafollye and Honoré Daumet, finally completed in 1907. Millet's goal was to restore the building to its state as it was under Francis I of France.[1]


There was a great expansion of archaeology during the Second French Empire. The decree creating the Musée des antiquités celtiques et gallo-romaines (Museum of Celtic and Gallo-Roman Antiquities) was signed by Napoleon III on 8 March 1862.[4] The first meeting of the committee set up to organize the museum was held on 1 April 1865 in the office of Count Émilien de Nieuwerkerke, superintendent of the École des Beaux-Arts. Attendees included major figures in archaeology including Alexandre Bertrand, Édouard Lartet, Louis Félicien de Saulcy and Jacques Boucher de Crèvecœur de Perthes. The project was assigned to Bertrand, who became the first director, Jean-Baptiste Verchère de Reffye and Claude Rossignol. Bertrand adopted the arrangement of objects by age rather than by subject, as in the past.[1]

In 1866 the mission of the museum was defined as being to centralize all documents concerning the history of the races who occupied the territory of Gaul from earliest times to Charlemagne, to classify these documents methodically, to facilitate study, and the publish and disseminate the material. The first seven rooms were inaugurated by the Emperor Napoleon III on 12 May 1867.[1] In 1867 Arthur Rhoné joined the newly created Museum of Antiquities and helped prepare a guide to the museum.[5] By 1907 44 rooms were open to the public.[1]


Annual visitors in the 2003–07 period were:[6]

  • 61,759 (2003)
  • 64,775 (2004)
  • 65,925 (2005)
  • 78,250 (2006)
  • 98,246 (2007)



Further reading[edit]

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