Paris for Free - Cernuschi Museum
Musee des Arts de L'Asie de la Ville de Paris
Copyright 2017 Creative Travel Publications, LLC
The home of Henri Cernushi has always displayed his fabulous collection of Asian art. His Paris mansion was built in 1873 by the architect William Bouwens van der Boijen.
His house overlooks Park Monceau, a peaceful urban retreat and lunch stop for tired and hugry Parisians. Henri Cernushi was born in Milan in 1821. He moved to Paris in 1848 after being banned in Italy because of his involvement in the Lombard revolution.
However, in Paris Cernuchi's treatises about the economy seem to have been relatively lucrative giving him enough money for travel to Japan and China where he purchased many valuable pieces of Oriental art .
At the front door I am greeted by two adorable pug dogs, one on my right and the other on my left. I really do not know what to expect from this museum experience. I suspect I will see very few images of women and little art created by women. Yet I really like Asian art and want to see what the Cernuschi has to offer. Besides the museum is free so I have nothing to lose but time. However, as with other city museums, there is a charge for temporary exhibits. Also there are free public restrooms in this museum.
The interior of this museum is bright and spacious. On the ground floor is a luxurious foyer decorated with marble Corinthian columns and inlaid mosaic floor. A grand sweeping staircase encircled with a wrought iron railing goes up to the first floor.
I get my ticket and a brochure for the permanent collection. The brochure only gives me an overview of the museum so I decide to rent an audio guide. My knowledge of Asian art is relatively limited. This seems like a good investment for me.
Wandering from room to room I find beautiful art displayed in cases and on pedestals. A bin in many of the rooms holds a placard, translated into several languages including English, that gives relevant information about the objects on display. Perhaps, I did not need the audio guide after all.
It takes me a little time but I begin to choose pieces I really like. A prancing horse clay sculpture seems so lifelike. I find a necklace and earring set that I want to reproduce for myself. The repetitive design on a pottery jug mesmerizes me. I want to take them home with me.
China 25 - 220 AD
China 907 - 1125 AD
China 300 BC
Turning into a hallway I find ... the Bodhisattva. This very feminine looking statuette of the enlightened one is made of golden bronze. It was sculpted during the reign of Emperor Yongle (1403 - 1424). I find the statuette so beautiful. There is a definite sense of the peace and insight in his hands and eyes.
Japan 1829 AD
Vase for Liquids
China 900 BC
Peacefulness appears to emanate from his sinuous body. I am charmed and taken in by this statue and museum. Visiting here has turned out to be an enlightening experience for me and one well worth repeating. I return my audio tour knowing I will come back someday soon if only just to see... the Bodhisattva.
The Cernuschi Museum has a shop and small auditorium. Tours and activities for adults and children are planned throughout the year. There is a small charge. You can check the schedule on the website. Most are in French. There is also a downloadable informational leaflet and map of the galleries. The museum is partially handicapped accessible.
The Rene Grousset Library is open for research to scholars and students by appointment. Identification is required. The reading room has computers and WiFi. The library has books, journals, auction catalogs, and bulletins on Asian art. Library materials may not be checked out. There is, however, an online directory of the library on the museum website.
Chinese 1403 - 1423 AD
For Women About Women By Women
Returning to Paris he displayed the art collection in his home for all his friends to see. In an act of civic generosity Cernuschi willed his entire collection and home to the City of Paris. Two years after his death in 1896 the museum was opened to the public. The collection has increased over the years by other purchases and donations. These include art from the Neolithic period and Guo Yushou's collection of modern Chinese paintings.
Displayed in this museum is pottery, jewelry, and statuary. I have read in the tourist literature that on the second floor is an enormous, golden image of buddha. It is supposed to be one of the largest buddha's in any public or private museum in the world.
You Are Welcome to Contact Me Personally With Comments or Questions
I leave the museum and follow the path to the Park Monceau. Settling myself on a bench, in the midst of noisy children from a nearby school, I unpack my lunch. Surrounded by lush greenery I ponder on the richness of Paris. It continually amazes me that there is so much free culture available to residents and visitors to this amazing city.
Here I am lunching in a lovely park, after having visited a fascinating museum, planning which free city museum to visit next. And I am doing all of this for nothing more than the cost of a metro ticket and home made picnic. So the total cost of this adventure is around $10.00. What a deal!