Portrait of Henri Louis Duhamel of Monceau (1700-1782) - © National Museum of the Navy / S. Dondain
The birth of the museum
In 1748, the encyclopedist and inspector general of the Navy, Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau, who gathered the largest collection of models of ships and port machines of his time, offered it to King Louis XV. This gift is accompanied by conditions: the collection will be installed in the Louvre and will be used for the instruction of the students of the school of engineers of the Navy that he manages.
Museum of Marine, in "Paris illustrated" 1878 - © National Museum of the Navy / S. Dondain
Installed in 1752 on the first floor of the old Louvre near the Academy of Sciences hall, the collection takes the name of "Marine Room" to serve students' practical work. It is also open to lovers of technical objects or beautiful objects, like a cabinet of curiosities.
In estimating his collection more useful to the Nation than to himself, Duhamel du Monceau establishes the cultural and institutional bases of a true national maritime museum.