The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs
The Musée des Arts Décoratifs

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts) is a museum dedicated to the exhibition and conservation of decorative arts. Located at 107 Rue de Rivoli in the city’s 1st arrondissement, the museum occupies the northwest wing of the Palais du Louvre, known as the Pavillon de Marsan (Marsan Pavilion). With more than one million objects in its collection, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is the largest museum of decorative arts in continental Europe.


The collection of the museum was founded in 1905 by members of the Union des Arts Décoratifs. Gaston Redon was the architect. It houses and displays furniture, interior design, altarpieces, religious paintings, objects d’art, tapestries, wallpaper, ceramics and glassware, plus toys from the Middle Ages to the present day.

The collection consists mainly of French furniture, tableware, carpets such as those of Aubusson, porcelain such as that of the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres, and many glass pieces by René Lalique, Émile Gallé and many others. It includes numerous works in the Art Nouveau and Art Déco styles and modern examples by designers such as Eileen Gray and Charlotte Perriand. The museum’s deep holdings, however, go back to 13th-century Europe.

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs furniture collection display
The Musée des Arts Décoratifs furniture collection display

Period rooms are of interest to the public. Examples include part of Jeanne Lanvin’s house (decorated by Albert-Armand Rateau [1884–1938] in the early 1920s) at 16 rue Barbet-de-Jouy in Paris. Others are the graphic artist Eugène Grasset’s dining room of 1880 and the Gold Cabinet of Avignon of 1752. And, peculiar to the French museum, it seems, there is the 1875 bedroom of the courtesan Lucie Émilie Delabigne, supposedly the inspiration for the main character of Émile Zola’s novel Nana (1880).

There is a distinctive ceiling once owned by Jeanne Baptiste d’Albert de Luynes, the Duke of Savoy’s mistress.


Some of the museum’s many exhibitions have been distinguished. Yvonne Brunhammer, the curator and then director of the museum for more than four decades from the early 1950s and the person who rediscovered Eileen Gray, organised the 1966 exhibition “Les Années ’25’: Art Déco/Bauhaus/Stijl Esprit Nouveau” The exhibition served as the coin “Art Déco” the term used to describe design between the World Wars, in particular French modern design.

The museum is on a par with similar and respected decorative-arts and design-focused institutions, such as the more international Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and was the inspiration for the Hewitt Sisters’ Collection in the Cooper Union (the ancestor of the long-established Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum) in New York City. However, due to much fine art, advertising, fashion and design exhibitions at the Paris Museum, its focus has been diluted. Its name, the Musée des Art Decoratifs, has become a misnomer. As a result, its popular name became MAD (mode, arts, design or, in English, fashion, arts, design) in January 2016, even though the acronym is the same as MAD (Museum of Arts and Design) in New York City.


Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris – Wikipedia.,_Paris

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