The construction of the museum

The village of Monceau

In 1860, the village of Monceau, like many other villages on the outskirts of Paris, was annexed to the city. This annexation was part of a vast urban development plan which Napoleon III entrusted to the prefect Haussmann. This plan would profoundly change the face of Paris: many old districts were destroyed and straight roads were built from the outskirts into the centre.
It was here, in the district of the Monceau plain, that the imperial aristocracy chose to buy plots and have mansions built which ostentatiously displayed their wealth to passers-by. In his novel La Curée (“The Kill”), Zola wrote: “It is a display, a profusion, an overwhelming amount of wealth.


A mansion built by Henri Parent

It was on the newly designed Boulevard Haussmann that Edouard André bought a plot on which to build his mansion. He entrusted the project to Henri Parent, a specialist in traditional architecture. From 1869 to 1876, Parent completed a vast and beautiful building, with a perfectly symmetrical design and façades which took much of their inspiration from classical models. Passed over for the construction of the new Opera in favour of his colleague Charles Garnier, Henri Parent was to surpass himself in the design and then the construction of this mansion. The opening of the residence in 1875 was the subject of an article in “L’Illustration” and visitors heaped praise on this monument as they had on the foyer of the Opera.