Small Personal Museums – France

In part 2 in our series of articles inspired by Orhan Pamuk’s novel, The Museum of Innocence, we look at some of the small museums his protagonist visited in France while looking for inspiration.

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Musée National Gustave Moreau, Paris, France

This museum is the former home of painter Gustave Moreau, who wrote in his will: “I bequeath my house… with all it contains: paintings, drawings, cartoons, etc., the work of fifty years, and likewise what is enclosed in the named house and the old apartments formerly occupied by my father and my mother, to the State… with the express condition to keep this collection forever – this would be my dearest wish – or at least as long as possible.”

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La Maison de Tante Léonie, or Musée Marcel Proust, Illiers-Combray, France

This little house museum is named after the character from the novel A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, but it was actually the house of Proust’s uncle and aunt, Jules and Élisabeth Amiot, that Proust visited in his youth. Preserved with period furnishings intact, it houses a collection of items, letters and documents that belonged to the author.

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Musée du Temps, Besançon, France

“As I wandered among the clocks, listening to the deep silence, I thought about museums and time.”

Located in the Granvelle Palace in Besançon, a city with a great watch-making tradition, this is a museum dedicated to time. Or clocks, to be more specific, displaying everything from the infinitely big to the infinitely small.

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Musée Edith Piaf, Paris

The museum and private apartment of singer Edith Piaf (of ‘La Vie en Rose’ fame) displays personal objects like hairbrushes, combs and teddy bears, a collection of earthenware, and her famous black dress.

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Atelier Cézanne, Aix-en-Provence, France

“I remember gazing with boundless happiness and admiration upon the shelves of pots and pans and other objects in the sun-drenched rooms.”

This museum includes the little studio where artist Paul Cezanne produced many of his famous works. Objects on display are a feast for lovers of still life: a short ladder and a high easel, a few locally-decorated vases, a ginger jar and an olive pot, a fruit bowl, a bottle of rum, three skulls, and a little plaster cupid by Francois Dusquenoy.

For part 3 in our series of Small Personal Museums, click here.

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