The castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, royal residence for several centuries, houses since 1862, at the initiative of Napoleon III, the Museum of National Antiquities, became National Museum of Archeology in 2005. It presents collections archaeological sites of international level, which retrace the life of men on the territory of Gaul from the origins to the year 1000, from the Paleolithic world to the Merovingian times.
From the castle to the museum
Napoleon III, who played a fundamental role in the knowledge and dissemination of the archaeological heritage of France, decided to collect the proceeds of his excavations, including those of Alesia, at the castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The decree for the creation of the museum was signed on March 8, 1862. It was "to gather the supporting documents, so to speak, of our national history," but also documents and objects of foreign origin for comparison. The restoration of the castle in its Renaissance state, but also the installation of the museum, are then entrusted to Eugène Millet, pupil of Viollet-le-Duc. The works, continued by the architects Lafollye and Daumet, are not finished until 1907. The emperor inaugurates the first seven rooms on May 12, 1867.
From then on, all the objects discovered are exposed without selection. Castings, made by the museum's workshops, bought or donated by major European museums, complete the presentation. Hand-written labels, maps and tables finalize the often new knowledge. Archaeological discoveries are multiplying very quickly and the objects keep coming to the museum which, originally conceived without reservation, suffers in the 1960s from a problem of organization and presentation.
André Malraux, then Minister of Cultural Affairs, decides to renovate the museum to offer the public a clearer museum experience. We go from 43 rooms on 3 floors to 18 rooms on two floors. The route becomes chronological and the visit begins with Prehistory and the origins of humanity. Originally referred to as the "Museum of Celtic and Gallo-Roman Antiquities", while also exhibiting collections from earlier periods, the Museum quickly became known as the "Museum of National Antiquities". In 2005, it takes the name of "National Archeology Museum" which more closely matches the collections kept by the establishment. In 2010, the Museum of National Archeology and the National Domain come together within the same establishment, in this case a service with national competence and becomes National Museum of Archeology - National Domain of Saint-Germain-en-Laye .
The Museum today
The old rooms of the castle are transformed into exhibition halls. About 29,000 archaeological objects (of the approximately three million that the museum holds) trace the lives of men and the material cultures of the origins in the early Middle Ages. Some of these collections, such as the Palaeolithic and Celtic art collections, are international references. Establishment of reference for archeology, the National Archeology Museum now inscribes its scientific project in a patrimonial and historical ambition. This orientation places it in a voluntarist policy of artistic and cultural education in the service of archeology and heritage.
The National Estate offers a belvedere on the Ile de France. 30 minutes from Paris, it offers 40 acres of gardens and a terrace designed by André Le Nôtre but also protected natural areas, whose maintenance is provided in compliance with eco-environmental standards.
Exhibition rooms are wheelchair accessible.
HOW TO REACH
Public transport and parking:
- RER line A: Station Saint-Germain-en-Laye located in front of the castle (20 mn from Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile)
- Bus 258 from La Défense
- Western Highway A 13, RN 190, RN 13, N 186
GPS coordinates: Latitude: 48.897872 | Longitude: 2.096123
Full price: € 6
Groups: € 5
Free every Sunday of each month
The Paris Museum Pass is accepted at the museum.
May 1, 2024
Dec 25, 2024
Place Charles de Gaulle