Adventure in France- Cluny Museum

The Cluny Museum or Musee de Cluny-Musee National du Moyen Age (Cluny Museum- National Museum of the Middle Ages) is built into and out of Hotel de Cluny- a Parisian mansion built during the 1400’s. The Hotel de Cluny was itself built over the ruins of first century Roman baths.
From the outside The Cluny is not particularly grand or imposing. It’s about a half city block in size and most of the property is made up of walled in gardens and on one side an open air excavation of the ancient baths. There was no line stretching around the block waiting to get inside and we didn’t even need to reserve a visiting time. We were not expecting the incredible collection of medieval art and artifacts tht was found inside. If you go to Paris you need to visit Musee Cluny as much as you need to visit the Louvre or any other major sites. And make sure to plan for an entire day there- we figured we’d go through the whole thing in a couple hours- we ended up leaving for lunch after a couple hours then coming back and spending the remainder of the afternoon there. The Cluny is included in the Paris Museum Pass as well.
One of the hundreds of beautiful ruins inside the Cluny Museum. If you look closely in the area that would have been this sculpture’s chin you can see the fossil of a snail shell. I love the idea of a ruin of one age made from ruins of another age.
Many of the sculptures were rediscovered in the spots they had been buried during or immediately after the French revolution. Originally, they had adorned churches but during the revolution they were pulled down and beheaded. The only reason they survived at all was a few brave souls buried them in various gardens around Paris and they were forgotten about completely until later excavations stumbled upon them.
I just loved all the juxtapositions I got wandering about the exhibits.
The outer wings of two triptychs. it was incredible to be able to get up so close to the artwork. Usually pieces this old are housed behind glass behind ropes- but here I could stare right into them trying to make out any brushstrokes (I could not in the painting on the left). The other wonderful thing about the Cluny was how uncrowded it was. You could really take your time and appreciate the art.
Another incredibly detailed triptych. Note the hierarchical size differences of the figures in the side panels.
The greens in this piece were so refreshing. They had no problem with bold, vibrant colors in the Middle Ages.
Of the vast collection of tapestries in the museum this is probably my favorite. Titled “Sight”, it’s part of The Lady and The Unicorn series which inhabits a large, circular, dimly lit room at the heart of the building. There are 6 of these in a series depicting the five senses and one that historians still aren’t quite totally sure the meaning of. These tapestries are enormous, this one being about 10′ x 11′.
The lacy ceiling of the chapel of the original Hotel De Cluny. It’s only appropriate that a museum housing medieval art would be inside of such a medieval building.
Next we travel through the ages of art at The Louvre. *Stay Tuned*

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