Paris: vagrant investigations, the illustrated journey of Émile Guimet in Asia

The journey leads to everything, including the creation of a museum! This is what the industrialist Émile Guimet, who was passionate about Asian art, did. In the Parisian setting where are shown its collections, very enriched since its disappearance, the exhibition “Vagabond Surveys” brings us back to March 12, 2018 the wanderings through Asia of this rout'art of the end of the 19th century. century. A superb invitation to travel, to discover the origins of the formidable museum of Asian arts, Guimet.

The Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts: nearly 150 years of history

The history of the Guimet museum dates back to the end of the 19th century. In 1879, the industrialist and frequent traveler Emile Guimet (1836-1918) inaugurates in Lyon, his birthplace, a museum where he presents pieces he has collected in Greece, Egypt, India, China and Japan.

Ten years later, it is in the 16th arrondissement of Paris that he ended up establishing his collection in a building designed for this purpose. Gradually, this institution, which passed into the bosom of the State in 1927, concentrated on asian arts by constantly enriching its collections. From now on, 6, place d'Iéna is a must-see address for Asian art lovers.

The museum, with its remarkable scenography, is divided into several departments where one admires an abundance of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, furniture, jewelry or weapons, covering several millennia of human history, marked by Buddhism and Hinduism in particular.

On board this beautiful vessel, which welcomes you with the exceptional Giant's Causeway from Angkor, you set off for Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, India, the Himalayas, China, Korea , Southeast Asia, Japan. A specific fate is made to textiles, which mainly come from India, China, Japan and Indonesia.

In addition to its permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, the museum offers shows (music, song, dance, theater, puppets, shadow theater ...), as well as cycles of projections films, workshops, conferences ...

And that's not all ! Near the museum is one of its outbuildings, theHeidelbach hotel, which contains collections of Japanese works and Chinese furniture, as well as a tea pavilion built according to the rules of the art by Japanese carpenters. This place, which has a Japanese garden (under construction until spring 2018), also presents temporary exhibitions.

Third site of the Guimet museum, the Ennery museum shows the collection of Chinese and Japanese art objects that the Ennery couple built up at the end of the 19th century.

The exhibition "Vagrant investigations, the illustrated journey of Émile Guimet in Asia"

"Wandering investigations" tells us the great journey which preceded the creation of the Guimet museum. The journey began in 1876 in New York, where Emile Guimet, rich son of the inventor of a blue pigment bearing his name, finds his friend Felix Regamey, a painter and illustrator with communard sympathies.

Together these young people are leaving for the Japan which then experienced a kind of cultural revolution under the aegis of Emperor Meiji. The two French fell in love with this country, Guimet acquiring many pieces, while Régamey drew sketches that he used to paint on his return.

They continue their journey in China, Singapore, Ceylan (current Sri Lanka) and in India, so many regions from which each brings back “memories”, one of the objects, the other of the drawings.

During the trip, Guimet meets scholars who help him better understand the cultures and more particularly the religions of the Far East.

The exhibition brings together drawings and paintings by Régamey, in particular about fifteen superb large-format canvases, photographs, objects and personal letters, which retrace the fabulous journey of the two men. It also presents works brought back by Guimet, as well as the remarkable reproduction of the Mandala of Tôji, also called the Buddhist Pantheon, which he had made. 

The exhibition will fascinate lovers of Asia and, beyond, extraordinary journeys, by taking us on the road alongside Guimet, during his Asian journey, but also on his first trips to Europe and Egypt. The course of “Wandering Surveys” naturally leads to the origins of the current museum, the fruit of this journey and of the passion of a genuine scholar in love with Far Eastern cultures.

The circle is complete, well almost ... Because the continuation of the epic of Guimet is in the rooms of the museum, which we strongly advise you to go through when leaving the exhibition.

Around the exhibition

Several events are organized around the exhibition in Paris: 

- From January 3 to February 3. Series of films: “Exotics”. The views of French, American and German directors on Asia, at the beginning of the 20th century in collaboration with the Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé Foundation: 73, avenue des Gobelins 75013 Paris. Phone. 01 83 79 18 96. 

- January 20. “Special day of Émile Guimet”. Various events from 11 a.m. to 17 p.m.

- February 3. Nocturne: "Imagined journeys". From 17 p.m. to 21 p.m. With the collective of "Evenings comics" and the label Tsuku Boshi: graphic performance and sound creation broadcast on acousmonium, exotic magic lanterns ...

- And also: guided tours, storytelling tours for children ...


Exhibition from December 6, 2017 to March 12, 2018 at National Museum of Asian Arts - Guimet : 6, place d'Iéna 75116 Paris. Phone. 01 56 52 53 00. 

- Open Wednesday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 18 p.m.

- Temporary collections and exhibitions: € 11,50 (full price), € 8,50 (reduced price). Free for those under 18, for those under 26 from the European Union, for everyone on the first Sunday of the month.

Good plan: your paid ticket allows you to make a second visit free of charge within 15 days of the first.

- Catalog co-published by Gallimard and MNAAG, € 39.

 Other addresses of the museum

- Hotel in Heidelbach. 19, avenue d'Iéna 75116 Paris.

- Ennery Museum. 59, avenue Foch 75116 Paris.


Audio Video Paris: vagrant investigations, the illustrated journey of Émile Guimet in Asia
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