Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Musée de Cluny
The Musée de Cluny, officially known as Musée National du Moyen Âge, is a museum in Paris, France, at 6 Place Paul Painlevé , south of the Blvd St. Germain , between the Blvd St. Michel and the Rue St. Jacques .
Over the centuries the structure has been many things. Most recently, in 1843, Alexandre du Sommerard , an avid collector of medieval artifacts, bought the property and had it converted into a museum. However, the building he purchased had in turn been partially constructed on the remains of Gallo-Roman baths dating from the 3rd century (known as the "Thermes de Cluny"), which are famous in their own right and which may still be visited. In fact, the museum itself actually consists of two buildings: the frigidarium ("cooling room"), where the remains of the Thermes de Cluny are, and the Hôtel de Cluny itself, wherein reside its impressive collections.
This museum houses a variety of important artifacts dating to the Middle Ages. In particular, it is renowned for its tapestry collection, which includes La Dame à la Licorne (The Lady and the Unicorn) from the so-called tapestry cycle of the same name, consisting of a series of six.
North of the museum there is a garden ("Forêt de la Licorne ") inspired by the tapestries.
References in Literature
Herman Melville visited Paris in 1849, and the Hôtel de Cluny evidently fired his imagination. The structure figures prominently in Chapter 41 of Moby Dick (also called "Moby Dick"), when Ishmael, probing Ahab's "darker, deeper" motives, invokes the building as a symbol of man's noble but buried psyche.
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