Remember those 28 kings of Judah that adorned the west facade of Notre Dame and were decapitated during the Revolution? (See my recent posting on Notre-Dame de Paris here.) Well, 21 of those 28 heads were unearthed in 1977 and are now on display in the Cluny Museum’s Notre Dame room along with other fragments from the cathedral’s portals.
We visited eight museums during our stay in Paris including the Cluny, officially known as Musée National du Moyan Age (the National Museum of the Middle Ages). It was the only museum we visited that is located in the fifth arrondissement. Its back end is the old Roman Baths known as the Thermes de Cluny on the intersection of Blvds St Germain and St Michel but you have to walk down one block on St Michel to Rue du Sommerard and then up one block to Place Paul Painlevé to find the museum’s entrance in the courtyard of the old Hotel de Cluny, once the Paris home for the powerful Abbots of Cluny, the famous Burgundian monastery north of Lyon and not far from Geneva, Switzerland that was destroyed during the revolution. Alexandre du Sommerard bought the Hotel de Cluny in 1833 and when he died in 1842 the state purchased both the building and Sommerard’s medieval art collection. The museum opened a year later.
The Notre Dame room is in the northwest part of the museum and two of its walls are part of the Roman Baths built in the third century AD. Some capitals circa 1030 AD from the abbey of St Germain des Pres are on display in a room nearby.
The museum also possesses the famous tapestries called La Dame a la Licorne (the Lady and the Unicorn) plus various collections of statues, paintings and stained glass windows from the Middle Ages.
I’ll upload more photos of the museum and its contents in a future posting.