The Arts Décoratifs collections (museum and library) are among the largest in France, bringing together over 1.4 million works and artifacts from the various fields of decorative and applied arts. These collections are enriched every year by numerous donations, purchases and bequests.

Decorative Arts and Design

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs houses one of the world’s largest decorative arts collections with some 531,459 works divided into five chronological sections (the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the 17th and 18th centuries, the 19th century, Art Nouveau and Art Deco, Modern and Contemporary) and five thematic sections (graphic arts, jewelry, toys, wallpaper, glassware). These national collections embrace every aspect of artistic production in every field of the decorative arts, and represent a wide range of techniques: woodwork (ornamental carving, furniture making, wood trim), metalwork (gold, silver, iron, bronze, pewter), ceramics, glass work, leather work (caskets, bindings), painting and humbler arts such as straw marquetry, bead embroidery and painted metal.

From the start, the collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs have largely been formed by donations and bequests: the Peyre, Guérin, Perrin, Maciet and Gould donations (furniture and cabinet work); the Doisteau, Grandjean and Maciet donations (gold and silver wares); the Fitzhenry, Maciet and Metman donations (ceramics); the Vever collection (seven hundred 19th-century jewelry pieces); the Doisteau collection (walking canes); the David David-Weill collection (Chinese cloisonné enamels)...

Musée Nissim de Camondo

The Musée Nissim de Camondo, at 63 rue de Monceau in Paris, is housed in a mansion that once belonged to Count Moïse de Camondo (1860-1935), who bequeathed it to the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs in memory of his son. The museum, which replicates the interior of an eighteenth-century home, displays the remarkable pieces acquired by this passionate collector throughout his lifetime, including French eighteenth-century furniture, paintings, carpets, tapestries, porcelain and gold and silver wares.

Fashion and Textiles

When the Musée des Arts Décoratifs was founded, it already owned a large textile collection (silks, embroideries, laces, printed fabrics) that has continued to grow ever since. In 1948, another institution – the Union Française des Arts du Costume (UFAC) – was set up by costume professionals on the initiative of historian François Boucher; under the guidance of Yvonne Deslandres, it grew to become one of the world’s leading collections, estimated at over 60,200 pieces. Headed by Pierre Bergé, the UFAC collection comprises costumes, accessories and textiles, together with a great many photographs and works of graphic art. In 1981, it was decided to combine the collections of the UFAC and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and as a result, the Musée des Arts de la Mode was inaugurated in 1986.

In 1997, under its new name – the Musée de la Mode et du Textile – it was incorporated into the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, becoming one of its principal departments. Today’s collection comprises over 152,800 pieces including costumes, accessories and textiles from the third century to the present day. The greatest names in fashion design are represented, with creations by Paul Poiret, Popy Moreni, Madeleine Vionnet, Christian Lacroix, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, among others. The Musée des Arts Décoratifs boasts the world’s largest fashion and textile exhibition space – over 1,500 m2 – which presents an average of two exhibitions a year.

Advertising and Graphic Design

Posters began to enter the collections in the early twentieth century, and were initially stored in the Library. A poster department was created by Geneviève Picon in 1972, then in 1978 a poster museum was officially founded, which moved to the rue de Paradis and became the Musée de la Publicité in 1981. In 1999, it reopened on the rue de Rivoli in exhibition rooms designed by architect Jean Nouvel.

In addition to posters (some 50,000 dating from the eighteenth century to World War II and about the same number from 1950 to the present day), there are now over 20,000 French or foreign advertising films from the 1930s to the present, over 30,000 press ads, radio commercials, promotional items, etc. The collection is now a department of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and its works are regularly displayed in temporary exhibitions.

Rare and Ancient Documents

The Library and Documentation Center house large collections of extremely rare historical documents on a wide range of supports including books, manuscripts, prints, engravings, photographs, archives of artists and professionals, and ephemera (menus, invitation cards, postcards, labels…).

These collections were initiated in 1864 by the founding members of the UCAD (Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs) who wanted to provide artists and artisans with a store of forms and images for their inspiration. Contributions came from various sources, essentially gifts and bequests of enlightened art lovers, collectors, industrialists and professionals.

With over 150,000 works including 3,000 periodicals (almost 250 of which are current journals), 150 private archive collections, 50,000 engravings, 55,000 photographs and thousands of ephemera, mostly in the volumes of the extraordinary Maciet collection, the constantly expanding documentation center is used as a reference and research library by students, researchers and art historians.

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