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6. Art and History Museum, permanent collections and temporary exhibitions

" And with the power of a word/ I start my life over / I was born to know you / To name you, Liberty " Paul Éluard

The Art and History Museum though founded in 1901, took residence since 1981 in the ancient 17th century Carmelite monastery, which had gardens that expanded all the way to the capital's doorstep. The visit of one of the daughters of Louis the 15th led to the edification of the neoclassic chapel in 1770, which housed a tribunal between 1895 and 1993. The Museum distinguished itself from another 42 contenders when it received the European Prize for Museums in 1982, awarded by UNESCO.

The Museum is home to two particularly remarkable archives, on the Paris Commune and on the poet Paul Éluard, local to Saint-Denis.


  • From Louise de France to Louise Michel...: on the floor which was reserved for the visits of the daughters of Louis the 15th, an exceptional collection on the popular revolt of 1871 is presented. Paintings, drawings, print, posters and many caricatures allow the visitor to discover the extent of the Parisian people's protest. Seventy-two days of hope and a violent repression.
  • Paul Éluard, in liberty... (1895-1952) Various manuscripts, including that of Liberty as well as original prints, rare and illustrated: photos, personal items and drawings. The visitor is immersed into the world of the great surrealist poet: his commitment towards peace, his literary choices, a life seen through his works, the work of a whole life.

The rooms are home to a wealth of permanent collections :

  • History of the Carmelite monastery
  • Religious art
  • Archaeology of Saint-Denis,from the middle-ages to the industrial era
  • Industrial archaeology
  • Items originating from the old hôtel-Dieu, established in Saint-Denis since the Merovingian era, with a room dedicated to a recreated apothecary.
  • Archives Paul Éluard (the poet was born in Saint-Denis).
  • Archives on the siege and the Commune of Paris (1870-1871)
  • Archives Honoré Daumier
  • Archives Francis Jourdain

All year long, the museum also welcomes temporary exhibitions.

The gardens of the monastery are open to the public.

Did you know ?

  • Set in the museum's gardens, the archaeological lapidary is a wall that presents twenty-three elements of sculpture and architecture, illustrating four themes around working with stone: material, technique/tools, building/decoration, funerary art. With an educational purpose, the wall complements the lapidary gallery exhibited indoors which is protected for its own conservation.
  • The garden of the 5 senses is witness to the ancient gardening tradition of the Carmelite monastery in Saint-Denis. Touching, smelling, tasting, listening and looking at the plants and the fruit of the garden, an original and tactile way to discover the town's history and the museum's collection.

Le musée en image

Musée d'histoire de Saint-Denis © W.Vainqueur
Musée d'histoire de Saint-Denis © W.Vainqueur

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Useful information

Musée d'art et d'histoire
22 bis, rue Gabriel Péri
93200 Saint-Denis
Tél. : +33 (0)1 42 43 05 10

  • Open all year. Closed: Tuesdays and Bank Holidays
  • Groups : bookings only on 01 42 43 47 57 or by regular mail
  • Free entry for all on the first Sunday of every month

Getting there

By Métro, ligne 13 : porte de Paris, sortie n°4
By RER D : gare de Saint-Denis
By Bus : 154, 254, 177, 255, 170 (square de Geyter)
By car : link to interactive map

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