Textiles in Paris?

January 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Posted in Museums and Exhibitions | Leave a comment

While I went to Paris to see the sights, my special interest is always in the textile offerings. I didn’t find that much information about possible museums to visit in advance, but one thing was on top of the short list: visit the Musée National du Moyen Âge to see the famous tapestries of the Lady with the Unicorn.  So this was to be my first stop right off the train.

The museum is fittingly located at the Hôtel de Cluny, a building with Roman and mediaeval roots. The items on display show the whole range of mediaeval ornaments. Right at the beginning of the tour through the museum there was a pleasant surprise: a special exhibition showing rare fragments of coptic textiles. After thoroughly exploring the many rooms of the ground floor I ventured upstairs and found the tapestries I was looking for. They have a darkened room just for themselves with lots of space. This makes for ideal viewing conditions, since you can look at the tapestries from different distances easily, and wander from one to the next comparing the motifs and admiring the craftsmanship involved. I always marvel at the huge amount of work that must have gone into those tapestries. You can click on the images in the website I linked to see some information and a few more pictures of each tapestry, but as always, images can’t replace seeing the real thing. The museum has done a brillant job of presenting the tapestries so they can be enjoyed thoroughly. All in all, definitely worth a recommendation.

Finding other places worth visiting was a bit more difficult. There is a fashion museum at the Palais Galliera, but it was closed last summer and according to the website will remain closed till spring 2013. So no success there. The next option according to my travel guide was the Musée de la Mode et du Textiles, situated in a wing of the Louvre. It took me a while to realize that this museum is actually connected with the museum Les Arts Decoratifs, so one ticket will get you entry to both. Since I was interested in both museums, no problem there.  I got myself a ticket and went looking for the textile part of the offerings. What I found was a great gallery of jewellery, and a special exhibition of a modern designer who works on the borders between fashion and art. While there were some interesting things to see there, it was not that much to my taste. I then continued to explore the rest of the museum, which was great. The permanent exhibition of the museum shows a chronological history of the decorative arts from the middle ages to the present. Furniture, porcelain, textiles and lots more all shown within their historical context. So I spent a very pleasant couple of hours taking a stroll through history. Back outside I had my lunch sitting under a tree in the Tuileries, and had a very nice view back to the museum I just exited:

After a leisurely break in the park I had enough energy for another big museum, and I chose to visit the Musée d’Orsay. Lots of famous paintings and sculptures, and of course the marvellous architecture of a train station turned museum. After that, I needed another walk and took the subway over to Champs de Mars, walking through the park towards the Eiffel tower. With too many people around and a thunderstorm approaching, I just walked through the base taking some pictures and then headed back to my lodgings. I had seen quite enough of the busy city for the day so I was grateful when my hostess, a fellow textile enthusiast, offered to show me around a few interesting places outside Paris the following day. But that’s for the next post.


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