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Coordinates: 48°51′25″N 2°18′46″E / 48.85694°N 2.31278°E / 48.85694; 2.31278

Historical cannons in front of the Musée de l'Armée (northern gate).

The Musée de l'Armée is a museum at Les Invalides in Paris, France. Originally built as a hospital and home for disabled soldiers by Louis XIV, it now houses the Tomb of Napoleon and the museum of the Army of France. The museum's collections cover the time period from antiquity until the 20th century.

The museum was established, under the name Musée de l'artillerie (Museum of Artillery - "artillerie" then meant all things related to weapons), in 1871, immediately after the defeat during the Franco-Prussian War and the proclamation of the Third Republic, in the Hôtel des Invalides.

In March 1878, the museum hosted an "ethnographic exhibition", as it was called, which represented the main "types" of Oceania, America, Asia and Africa. Dummies representing people from the colonies, along with weapons and equipment, were the main attraction. The exhibit, organized by colonel Le Clerc, attempted to demonstrate theories of unilineal evolution, putting the European man at the apex of human history [1]. Parts of this collection began to be transferred to the Ethnographic Museum of the Trocadéro in 1910 and in 1917; the last colonial rooms were closed just after the 1931 Paris Colonial Exhibition [1]. All remnants were transferred after the Second World War [1].

A Musée historique de l'Armée (Historical Museum of the Army) was also created in 1896. It merged in 1905 with the Musée de l'Artillerie creating the current Museum. Today, it holds 500,000 artifacts, including weapons, armour, artillery, uniforms, emblems and paintings, exhibited in an area of 12,000 m². The permanent collections are organized into "historical collections", representing a chronological tour from ancient times through the end of World War II.


  1. ^ a b c Gilles Aubagnac, "En 1878, les "sauvages" entrent au musée de l'Armée" in Zoos humains. De la Vénus hottentote aux reality shows, Nicolas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boëtsch, Eric Deroo, Sandrine Lemaire, edition La Découverte (2002), p.349-354 (French)

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