Museum of Fine Arts, Reims

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The museum

The Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des beaux-arts) is a fine arts museum in the French town of Reims.


Its collection was founded in 1794 with objects seized during the French Revolution and was first housed in the city's town hall. Throughout the 19th century its collections grew via purchases and bequests, until in 1908 the city of Reims decided to buy a separate building to house it. Their choice fell on the former Saint-Denis Abbey. That building's construction was begun in the 9th century by Fulk on the site of a former cemetery. It had then undergone several uses since the Revolution, as the French Directory's district headquarters, a store for artworks from sold-off churches, in 1814 and 1815 a barracks for Russian occupation troops, and finally in 1822 as a grand seminary. It was abandoned as a seminary in 1906 after the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State and the museum moved into it. It was then renovated, with the museum's rooms partly corresponding to the 18th century abbot's palace, rebuilt in the 19th century. The museum was re-opened in its new home on 19 October 1913 by president Raymond Poincaré.


The collections cover all the main European artistic movements from the 16th to 20th centuries and are shown in chronological and thematic order. Though it also houses sculptures, drawings (including 13 exceptional watercolour portraits on paper by Lucas Cranach the Elder, on rotating show in a special room devoted to them), engravings, furniture and objets d’art, most of the museum's objects are paintings, notably from the Flemish, Dutch and French schools and by historic and modern artists, with the French school being the most strongly represented, notably the 17th century. Artists represented include :


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Coordinates: 49°15′12″N 4°01′51″E / 49.25333°N 4.03083°E / 49.25333; 4.03083