World In Paris
Travel Inspiration

A very special library (at Musée Guimet)

We like libraries. In our opinion you can know a lot about a person by looking at his /her library so the first thing that catches our attention when visiting a friend’s house is, of course, the library.


This is a special library of a special person. Emile Guimet (1836-1918) was an industrialist from Lyon. He was a great traveler and visited Egypt and Greece before traveling around the world in 1876, stopping off in Japan, China and India. In the course of his travels, he acquired extensive collections of objects which he put on display in a museum opened in Lyon in 1879. These collections were subsequently transferred to a new museum he made build in Paris which was inaugurated ten years later, in 1889.
Emile Guimet had conceived his museum as a centre for study. As the industrialist he was, he spoke of a “factory of philosophical science”. As to him, displaying objects was not enough, they also had to be explained: a library was then a necessity. The thousands of books he had gathered, especially those collected during his World Tour, were housed in this rotunda, on the Museum’s first floor, and show the importance given to the library.


This part of the building, in neoclassical style architecture and protected today as Historical Monument, has remained almost unaltered. During Emile Guimet’s time, it was here that prestigious cultural manifestations organized by the owner took place. Let’s mention a Buddhist ceremony, celebrated by Japanese monks from the Shin-Shu seat in front of French personalities, or the Mata Hari’s first performance for a selected audience. She danced here in the so called Brahman call way.


Conceived nowadays as a research library for advanced studies, the actual library specializes into the arts and archaeology of those areas represented in the museum.
After Guimet’s death, this museum was completed by large collections of objects brought back by major expeditions to Central Asia and China, becoming the National Museum of Asian Arts. Musée Guimet covers today the Arts from India to Japan during a period of five thousand years and it is the biggest collection of Asian Arts of the world outside Asia.


Entrance ticket: 7.5€ (permanent collections); 9.50€ (permanent + temporary collections). First Sunday of every month Free Entrance (only permanent collections)

XVIth Arrondissement. 6, place de Iéna, M. Iéna L3

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