Lyon, whose reputation is based on five centuries of commercial and cultural activity and exchange, possesses a number of remarkable museums. From the Gallo-Roman civilisation to the adventures of textile and silk, from the invention of cinematography to the history of the French Resistance, the city’s places of memory always find refuge in the most splendid buildings.
The Hôtel de Gadagne, a superbly renovated Renaissance building, houses two museums, the Lyon Historical Museum and the International Puppet Museum,inaugurated in June 2009, after 10 years of restoration work:
The International Puppet Museum is the only museum in France dedicated to this living art balanced on the frontiers of theatre, dance, and the visual arts. Through the puppet character of Guignol, the visitor discovers a world of theatre, childhood and fascination and one of the finest collections of puppets, sets and scripts from around the world.
The Lyon Historical Museum is a resource for understanding the city and all its components: urbanistic, economic, social, political, cultural, etc. After a visual and auditory immersion in the 21 st century city, the visitor embarks on a voyage to the capital of Gaul, to Lyon during the French Revolution, to the city of silk weavers and to the workplace of the Lumière brothers, inventors of the movie camera.
The Benedictine abbey of Our Ladies of Saint-Pierre, located on the Place des Terreaux accommodates the Fine Arts Museum, which possesses the largest collection of impressionist works in France after the Musée d’Orsay. In January 2008, the City Hall bought a masterpiece from Nicolas Poussin : “La fuite en Egypte”.
The Textiles and Decorative Arts Museum is housed in a remarkably attractive townhouse. It possesses the most important collection of textiles in the world.You can see the progress made over the years in making and decorating textiles. It goes without saying that Lyon’s silk-work from the 17th to 20th centuries is extensively represented, but the museum also possesses an exceptional collection of documents on textile made up of drawings, patterns and colours for Lyon-made fabrics created for the royal courts of Europe over the last four centuries and which today provide inspiration to fashion creators the world over.
Under the impetus given by Thierry Frémaux, the Musée Lumière opened its doors forthe first time in June 2003, on the occasion of the 20 th birthday of the Lumière Institute. Hometown of the Lumière brothers, Lyon practises the 7thart with assiduousness and enthusiasm. The museography underlines the two facets of the two brothers’ invention, which was the work of men who were both engineers and artists. In the building where the first-ever film was made, located on the family property and wonderfully restored, a cinema welcomes a public of cinema-lovers, fascinated by the Lumière Institute programmes shown throughout the year. A local curiosity: the filmmakers’ wall with the names of actors and directors shows the international honours that have been paid to Lyon (see the heading “Lyon, birthplace of cinema”).
The Lyon-Fourvière site and Museum occupy the slopes of the Fourvière hill, the centre of Lugdunum in Antiquity, where two major structures were built: the amphitheatre and the Odéon, now on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. This superb park, ideal for strolling or meditating, comes to life in the summer during the performances of the ‘Nuits de Fourvière’ festival, a highpoint in the Rhône département’s cultural calendar. Perfectly integrated into the archaeological site, the Museum presents collections of mosaics, bronzes, scale models and everyday objects, enabling the visitor to trace the history of Lyon from the end of pre-historic times to the early Christian period.
The Tony Garnier Urban Museum is a surprising example of an open-air museum, the fruit of a community initiative. This unique cultural experience associates the 4,000 inhabitants of the neighbourhood with a monumental artistic creation (designedby the artists from the “Cité de la Création”). Twenty-five murals pay homage to the Lyon architect Tony Garnier, faithfully reproducing the different phases in the city’s urban development planned under Edouard Herriot. In 1991, UNESCO rewarded this initiative by attributing it with the World Decade for Cultural Development label.
The Model and Cinema Décor Museum re-opened in February 2005 in a splendid Vieux Lyon building, the Maison des Avocats. Its mission is to collect, exhibit and promote the work of miniaturists the world over, offering visitors an instant of fantasy and emotion when they discover famous works brought to life with a breath of poetry and inspiration. You will find various collections, such as Dan OHLMANN’s “Reals”, faithful reproductions of surprising and hidden places in Lyon (the dance room at the opera, the Brasserie Georges, etc.).
The Modern Art Museum, located in the heart of the Cité Internationale, constitutes a permanent reflection on present-day society. The façade on the side of the Parc de la Tête d’Or is the only remaining part of what used to be Lyon’s Exhibition Centre. Its exhibitions attract world-famous plastic artists and they are a natural extension to the Biennial Modern Art Festival(12th September 2013 – 5th January 2014)
On a more serious level, the Centre for the History of the French Resistance and Deportation is an invitation to meditate on the dignity of humanity. Symbolically installed in the very place where the Gestapo had its headquarters and gaols, it is a place of reflection and study, encounters and conferences.
“Heir” to the existing “Muséum de Lyon”, the Confluence Museum will be the home of all the collections as from November 2014. They will be split into 3 domains: geosciences, life sciences and human sciences, to be displayed in different settings, depending on the different exhibitions. They will be accompanied by the various acquisitions required for the different themes in question, particularly for developing sciences and techniques, Museum’s fourth largest section. The objective is to improve exhibitions in a way as relevant and up-to-date as possible, by benefiting from a surface three times that of the present Museum.
Main museums in Lyon:
- — Musée des Confluences
- — Museum of Miniatures and Cinema
- — Fine Arts Museum
- — Museum of Textile and Decorative Arts
- — Printing Museum
- — Modern Art Museum
- — Lumière Institute
- — Gallo-Roman Museum
- — Tony Garnier Urban Museum
- — Gadagne Museums: History of Lyon & World Puppets
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