Paris has something to amuse fans of the cultures of the East: in the capital there are two museums singing odes to them. In order to explore the culture of the Middle Kingdom, in addition to the Asian culture, it is worth going to the free Musée Cernuschi Museum. It is small compared to the Guimet Museum, but it ranks fifth among European museums with Chinese expositions.
The name of the collection of antiquities was given in honor of the Italian financier Henri Chernushi, who stood at the origins of the Paribas bank. In 1871 he left the country and, together with his friend, art historian Theodor Dure, went to the East. From a two-year trip, Chernushi brought back about 5000 artifacts that laid the foundation for the future museum. After the death of the financier, according to his will, Paris inherited this gorgeous collection, and in 1898 the Chernushi Museum opened its doors to guests, which rightfully belongs to the oldest Parisian museums.
Cernuschi Museum Building
To accommodate the brought exhibits, Henri Chernushi bought a mansion number 7 in Monceau Park, on Velazquez Avenue. Its layout did not quite fit the needs of the collection, so the Italian ordered a new project of the house to the eminent Dutch architect William Bowens van der Boyen.
The architect decided to build a building in the neoclassical style, popular in Italy in the middle of the 19th century. The façade features medallions with inlaid mosaic portraits of Aristotle and Leonardo da Vinci, which Chernushi admired. Above the front door, two plates are engraved with the dates of the French revolutions of 1848 and 1870. Two bearded Atlanteans hold a ledge along the perimeter of the mansion.
The interior of the museum is centered around the first floor with a high ceiling: William Bowens was tasked with ensuring that the main artifact, a 4,5-meter bronze statue of Buddha, brought from Meguro, a suburb of Tokyo in parts, fit into this space. As a result of the last restoration in 2005, all permanent exhibitions are located on the extended ground floor. And next to them is a conference room, a library with access to wi-fi and a huge reference fund on the culture of the East, as well as a room where several hundred guests can drink cocktails or dine.
Expositions of the Cernuschi Museum
Today, the museum has collected more than 12000 items from ancient eras, starting from the 15th century BC. The museum is especially famous for its bronze artifacts - in this regard, it simply has no equal in the world. To make it convenient for visitors to observe the development of entire cultures, all collections in the exhibition halls are placed in the order of chronology and belonging to the country.
The permanent exhibition of the museum contains more than 900 items from the Middle Kingdom. The rest of the Chernushi collection - Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese - are kept in the museum's reserves and are put on public display only once a month, on Sunday.
The Chinese collection, which continues to expand due to gifts from patrons, includes: ceramics of the Yangshao and Longshan culture (Neolithic era), ritual and everyday objects, weapons from the eras of 14 Chinese dynasties - from the bronze of the first Xia Dynasty (2200-1700 BC) to to painting on silk of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), as well as paintings by artists of the Celestial Empire of the 20th century.
The Tigress vessel with zoomorphic motifs, jade plates of the Shan Dynasty (about 1550-1050 BC), as well as bronze weapons of the Warring States era (5-3 century BC) are of particular value in the Chinese exposition.
The Japanese collection includes cult bronzes, including an 18th-century Meguro Buddha statue, Edo period porcelain lacquerware, tea ceremony ceramics, and paper and silk paintings from the 16th to 20th centuries.
Korean exhibits include a bronze bell from the Goryeo era and monochrome ink creations by world renowned artist Lee Wongguo.
The Vietnamese collection of the Chernushi Museum contains more than 1300 household and religious bronze items belonging to the Dong Son cultures (500-100 BC) and the Chao Chi culture (1-3 centuries), as well as ceramic pots from the Mak dynasty (15- 17th century) and baroque censers of the Le dynasty (17th century).
Immersion in the perception of the world, which is far from the European one, is what awaits visitors at the Chernushi Museum.
Address: 7 avenue Vélasquez, Paris 75008
Phone: + 33 1 53 96 21 50
Metro: Villiers, Monceau
Hours: 10: 00-17: 00
WiFi Internet: yes
- Adult: 8 €
- Reduced: 6 €