You’ve been to the Louvre. You’ve been to the D’Orsay. You love them, I get it. But there are SO many smaller, lesser known museums, that offer the chance to discover something new. One that Peter and I recently discovered is the Musee Maillol. www.museemaillol.com. Do you know it? It’s a 10-minute walk from the Musee D’Orsay, and an 11-minute walk from the Luxembourg Gardens. The building itself is magnificent, and the history is fascinating. In 1739, a group of nuns endowed the land to the city of Paris for a fountain to be constructed, the Fontaine des Quatres-Saisons. This fountain was built between 1739 and 1745 as a monument to the beautiful city of Paris, and, in 1862, was declared an historic monument.
This is now one of the exterior walls of the museum. In the next few decades, the nuns built a variety of small buildings around it as part of their convent. The various buildings were then sold off during the Revolution and divided into various residential units. In the 19th century, it was home for a variety of creative people, like Alfred du Musset (poet, dramatist, novelist) and Paul Jacques Aime Baudry (painter), and in the 1950’s the Prevert Brothers opened a cabaret there. A colorful past, to be sure! In 1955, Dina Vierny, who was a model and muse for Aristide Maillol, the sculptor, bought one of the residential apartments and over the next thirty years acquired the rest of the property (how did she do that? I have no idea!), with the goal of opening a museum to house Maillol’s works. In January, 1995, she succeeded and the building was opened as the Musee Maillol. (This is the courtyard that is now the Cafe Prevert)
It houses not only a selection of Maillol’s sculptures, but also the museum brings in a variety of amazing temporary exhibits.
This temporary exhibit was, in fact, a prime reason we went in June. It was a collection of Emil Buhrle. Emil Buhrle was a German-Born Swiss Industrialist who assembled his collection between 1936 and 1956. This was the first time the collection had been shown in Paris, and contains works from the 2nd half of the 19th century through the early part of the 20th century. The collection was embroiled in some controversy because thirteen pieces were acquired during World War II and subsequently were discovered to have been looted from their rightful owners. Emil Buhrle went to those families and returned those paintings, and then asked if he could purchase them back (many of which he did). An honorable thing to do. This made the collection that much more poignant for me.
In 2021, the collection will be housed permanently in Zurich at Kunstenhaus https://www.kunsthaus.ch
After an engrossing hour of perusing, we left to find a place to eat, and found an adorable cafe nearby offering delicious steak frites– The Cafe Le Flores.
I will continue to explore Paris for small, lesser-known museums to share with you!! Enjoy!