The Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of Arts and Crafts) is a museum in Paris that houses the collection of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (National Conservatory of Arts and Industry), which was founded at the end of the 18th century as a repository for the preservation of scientific instruments and inventions.
It may sound boring, but when you come here, you will change your mind. Gigantic dangling ball attached to string, called Foucault pendulum; steam-powered aircraft that looks like those on Da Vinci’s sketches and 17th-century calculators are only three examples of the unusual stuff accrued here.
Are you a mechanical nerd? Great, this place is like Disneyland for you. Do you like history? You’ll find a lot of it here. If you like both, there are plenty of steampunk items. Thanks to this museum you can find out what the ancestors of your electronic gadgets looked like.
The museum collection is organised in 7 main areas, which are presented in chronological order: scientific tools, materials, construction, communication, energy, transport and mechanics. Among the gems of the museum are such items as Lavoisier’s gasometers, corning optical fibre, the cinematograph of Lumière brothers, the Watt steam engine, the voltaic pile and the Stephenson locomotive type 020.
The end of the 18th century was the beginning of the Steam Age. It was also the time of the Museum of Arts and Crafts foundation, which, at first, was just a repository for scientific instruments and inventions belonged to the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts. That makes the museum the world’s oldest institution of this type.
The Museum of Arts and Crafts is housed in the buildings of the former royal priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs. The museum occupies the main buildings, where the monks were housed, and the old priory church. Spacious interiors represent the neo-Gothic style. The décor corresponds perfectly with the collections.