A Gem in Toulouse: Musée des Augustins

One of the best museums in Toulouse, Musée des Augustins offers a brilliant collection of medieval art and French paintings. It is a must-see not only for art enthusiasts but for everyone visiting the brick colored city of Toulouse.

Housed in an ancient convent, Musée des Augustins resides in a majestic setting. Besides its art collections the museum compound hosts a gigantic church and a beautiful courtyard surrounded by an elegant gothic arcade.

The beautiful hall designed by Jorge Pardo houses the 12th century Romanesque capitals.

The beautiful hall designed by Jorge Pardo houses stunning Romanesque capitals dating back to the 12th century.

Musée des Augustins houses a collection of Romanesque capitals dating back to the 12th century, probably one of the very important collections of its kind in the world. These capitals were brought from different churches in the city (Notre-Dame de la Daurade, basilica of St. Sernin and from Toulouse Cathedral) whose certain parts suffered destruction due to various reasons including the revolutionary destruction of ecclesiastic buildings after the revolution of 1789. Today, these capitals are exhibited in a grand hall exceptionally well designed by Jorge Pardo as part of the Le Printemps de Septembre festival.

Beautiful Romanesque capitals of Musée des Augustins

Beautiful Romanesque capitals of Musée des Augustins.

Perhaps this design will not be suitable to everyone’s taste but nevertheless it is a bold and a smart move by the Toulousain museum to exhibit their medieval treasures in a contemporary and funky fashion. The result is not only aesthetically beautiful but it is also very efficient in terms of visitor circulation and experience. Rather than displaying these exquisite capitals in boring cases, they are displayed as if they were standing on a column as they were meant to be when first created. Thus the visitor will be able to look at them from below and rather than standing in front of boring museum cases, will be wandering in a jungle of colorful columns and extremely interesting capitals. The museum’s bold and innovative approach augments the visitor experience and excels in the presentation of its collections.

This is good museum management.

The painting of Mehmed II entering Constantinople towers above the visitors.

The painting of Mehmed II entering Constantinople towers above the visitors.

Musée des Augustins is not a gargantuan museum like the Louvre which makes it much more comfortable and enjoyable to visit. Nevertheless its collection is very impressive. The gallery of European paintings welcomes its visitors with a colossal painting of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II entering the city of Constantinople as he conquers the imperial capital in 1453 (painted by Benjamin-Constant). The painting collection of the museum includes works by Delacroix, Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Two random Gothic sculptures from the collection.

Two random Gothic sculptures from the collection.

Musée des Augustins also offers a rich collection of well-preserved gothic sculptures, which are displayed in the older parts of the ancient convent.

Art and architecture: Left, the gothic church used as an exhibition space and right, a ceiling with a very Gothic decoration.

Art and architecture: Left, the gothic church used as an exhibition space and right, a ceiling with a very Gothic decoration.

One of the perks of occupying an ancient convent is to have awesome spaces to mount your exhibitions. Museum compound of the Augustins includes a very impressive Gothic Church, which is being used as an exhibition space. The buildings themselves are works of art for those interested in architecture.

The garden and the arcade

The garden and the arcade.

A medieval monastic garden is recreated in a beautiful courtyard surrounded by a gothic arcade.

Children's workshop.

Children’s workshop.

Finally, the museum has a workshop for children where they make collages, paintings and models for stained glasses.

On a final note, Musée des Augustin is an exemplary museum that surprises its visitors with the scale of its collections and their successful presentation, which makes  it is a must-see for everyone visiting the brick colored city of Toulouse.

 

Yaman Kayabali

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