Autumn of the Middle Ages
In theory, history is a continuous process. But in practice there are many gaps and gaping voids in it. In the National Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris, known as the Cluny Museum, you feel as if with your fingertips as one era grows out of another, destroying something, borrowing something, favorably allowing you to live out your life. The passage of time is materialized here. On ancient ruins, the Museum is located in the heart of the Latin Quarter – on the corner of Saint-Michel and Saint-Germain boulevards. Tourists here are attracted not only by the collection, but also by the architecture of the museum building. A long time ago, when Paris was still called Lutetia and entered the Roman Empire, on this place were located the terms, the remains of which form part of the museum. The baths were divided into three large rooms: caldarium (for hot baths), now almost destroyed, tepidarium (for warm baths) and frigidarium (for cold ones), built along the lines of the Roman term of Trajan and the best preserved. This is the only Roman building in France, where the vaults completely survived. The room is so well designed that even on the hottest days in this spacious hall with a height of 13.5 meters coolness reigns. The walls and floor were heated using a system of lead and clay pipes, water in which came from the boilers in the basements. In summer they are open for inspection. Later, houses appeared near the ancient ruins, including the residence of Pierre de Challes, who at the beginning of the 14th century headed one of the richest abbeys of medieval France, Cluny in Burgundy. At the end of the 15th century, another superior of Cluny, Jacques d’Amboise, reconstructed the abbey’s residence in Paris. The building that has survived to our day is a masterpiece of the later, so-called “flaming” Gothic. After the French Revolution, the Cluny mansion was nationalized. In 1832, the collector Alexander du Somerrar placed his collection there. In the previous period, lovers of fine arts from the whole history of art were interested primarily in antiquity and – to a lesser extent – the Italian Renaissance. And only the era of romanticism opened the eyes of collectors to the beauty of non-classical art forms. In this sense, Du Somerrar was a hero of his time: he collected objects of medieval art. After his death in 1842, the building and collection were purchased by the state. Send to the museum and the terms cleared under Louis XVIII. Nowadays the existing building connects part of the thermae and the mansion. This strange symbiosis gives a rare opportunity to see how the Middle Ages grow out of antiquity. After all, from the troubled centuries of the early Middle Ages, very few survived. Because of this, there is a perverse feeling that antiquity was gone, not noticed by the next epoch, and the culture of the Middle Ages was built almost from scratch, from scratch. Meanwhile, it is firmly on the basis of ancient. The complex of the Cluny Museum is a metaphor for this unity: a beautiful medieval house is connected with ancient terms and grows out of their foundations, destroys something, and uses something pragmatically. Yes, and the residence of the abbots itself was repeatedly rebuilt and rebuilt: this is how the staircases leading to nowhere and the arches appeared. And then on top of all this lay the late architecture of the museum complex: modern reinforced concrete structures, glass ceilings. The result is a feeling of continuous development. The building grows like a living organism. Cluny Museum of Curiosities – the old museum. And the point is not that his history has been going on for almost two centuries, but that he retained many of the generic features of the museums of the 18th and early 19th centuries. The modern viewer is used to a different kind of art museums — educational, chronological, national schools, individual masters. The main features offered by such a museum are educational.