History of the Mobilier national

Le Mobilier national en construction, 1936

Vue de la Bièvre à la hauteur du 12 rue Berbier du Mets

The histories of both the Mobilier national and the Manufactures nationales have been inseparable since the time of Colbert, yet should not be confused. These two institutions have been combined on the same site since 1937, when the current buildings of the Mobilier national were constructed immediately next to the historic Enclos des Gobelins complex. Since this same date, the two have been joined under one single general administration, however each building (headquarters of the Mobilier national and the workshops of the Manufactures nationales) retains its singular spirit.

The Mobilier National
The former Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, the institution, while retaining its original tasks (link to missions), has evolved over the centuries. It is now a department of national jurisdiction (since January 1, 2003), attached to the Délégation aux Arts plastiques du Ministère de la Culture.

* The site
Since 1937, the Mobilier national has remained in the cement building designed by Auguste Perret on the former gardens of the Gobelins manufactory.

* A brief history
Under the Ancien Régime, the royal residences were numerous. Therefore, only the main residencies featured permanent furnishings. Others residencies were furnished on demand, a few days before the arrival of the sovereign. Beginning in the thirteenth century, one of the departments of the Ostel le Roy (which included all the departments the royal stewardship) was charged with the special duty to provide furniture and tapestries to the king, his family and court. This department was already in charge of keeping inventory of furniture and objects of the Crown, providing transport and maintenance, and above all fashioning new furnishings.
It was in 1663 that Louis XIV and Colbert ordered the institution of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne with the double duty of glory and of patrimonial management. Gédéon Berbier du Mets was the first to be put in charge as director, with the title of “General Comptroller of the furniture of the Crown.”

For a long time the Garde-Meuble had a vagabond nature... Installed, since its reorganization by Colbert, at the hôtel du Petit Bourbon until 1758, it was subsequently elected to reside, among other places, at the hôtel de Conti (1758 -1768) and rue Bergère (1825). It has remained since 1937 on the former gardens of the manufacture des Gobelins.

* Key dates after 1797
1797, June: eradication of the administration of the Garde-Meuble.
1800: resurrection as a department of the Garde-Meuble des consuls.
1804: transformation into Mobilier impérial. Napoleon the First develops an extensive policy on the refurnishment of palaces.
First Restoration: replenishment of stores.
1870, fall of the Second Empire: the Mobilier impérial becomes Mobilier national, dispersion of collections between the different ministries and administrations. The Burning of the Tuileries and St. Cloud further aggravate the situation.
1893, July 27: law of the Third Republic imposes the redaction of a new inventory of present furniture in the reserves.
1901, February 24: decree that entrusts the musée du Louvre with part of the collections and rare coins, collected by Williamson in the musée du Garde-Meuble.
1959: attachment to the minister in charge of cultural affairs.
1964: with the initiative of André Malraux, creation within the Mobilier national of a workshop of research and creation.
1980, February 23: decree fixing the main tasks of the Mobilier national.
1982, October: the Mobilier national is placed under the supervision of the Délégation aux Arts plastiques of the ministère de la Culture.
2003, January 1: the Mobilier national becomes a department of national jurisdiction.
Currently, the Mobilier national conserves, repairs and maintains approximately 80,000 items of furniture and textiles (tapestries, carpets).