Established as a network, the National Maritime Museum is present in two flagship towns of Brittany: Brest in Finistère and Port-Louis in Morbihan. A stroll through the museum is an opportunity to observe splendid collections around different themes of which the sea is the common thread. It should be noted that museums take place in the heart of a monument for one and a historical site for the other, essential places of cities where we will take the time to be interested in both architecture and to history. The National Maritime Museum are also spaces in motion and where temporary exhibitions, workshops and other cultural events take place that contribute to the influence of the two cities. Finally, it should be noted that the network goes beyond the borders of Brittany,
Getaway to the National Maritime Museum in Brest
You have to reach the Château de Brest to afford a visit to the National Maritime Museum. The place is therefore one of the rare monuments of the city to have withstood the bombings of the Second World War, and it is interesting to know that at the time of the Middle Ages, it was considered one of the strongest castles in the world. The visit alternates between interior and exterior. Through the rooms, but also by traversing the Gallo-Roman foundations until reaching the fortifications of Vauban and passing by the bastion and the covered way, the public crosses 17 centuries of history. The museum unveils a heritage of great wealth and which bears witness to the important naval adventure of the Brest Arsenal and the French Navy. VS’ This is how the collections put forward masterpieces of naval decoration, models, elements of emblematic ships of the Navy and submarines. Without forgetting an immersion in the heart of the Lapérouse expedition, the life of the convicts and the role of the city in the American War of Independence. The other advantage of the site is that it offers beautiful views of the harbor, the ports and the Penfeld river.
The National Maritime Museum of Brest also offers temporary exhibitions of choice, with currently a tribute to the official painters of the Navy who disappeared since the last edition of the Marine Show, in 2017, as well as the event “Plein soleil”, for which the students of the School European Superior of Art from Brittany – Brest site, have carried out two projects in connection with the collections of the National Maritime Museum and the castle. One of his projects focuses on points of view with works visible from the museum or the city. And then, there are the unmissable guided tours accompanied by a cultural mediator, as well as the theatrical visit “Two emperors on a canoe”, during which two actors offer an ambulatory visit leading from the National Maritime Museum to the castle , until at the Canot de l’Empereur installed at the Ateliers des Capucins. The experience is to be lived all summer.
Stroll through the National Maritime Museum of Port-Louis
Located in one of the most beautiful citadels on the French coast, the National Maritime Museum of Port-Louis unveils in addition to its rich collections, sublime panoramas on the harbor of Lorient, the island of Groix, Larmor Plage and the point of Gâvres. It offers the public two thematic routes. The first, “Rescue at sea”, is dedicated to the fraternity of seafarers. From the first sailing dinghies to the helicopter transport practiced today, we can see the evolution of rescue methods and the deep feeling of mutual aid. that reigns in the marine world. Among the items to have, the lifeboat Commandant Philippes de Kerhallet, launched in 1897 at the Augustin Normand shipyards in Le Havre and which is to this day the most preserved French canoe. The second course, “Treasures of the ocean”, is devoted to underwater archeology. We discover the pieces from the old collections of the museum, which are
Among the events currently not to be missed at the National Maritime Museum in Port-Louis, the exhibition “In the footsteps of admiral Paris”, presentation until January 2022 of some of the many plans, watercolors and models the exceptional sailor, designer, watercolourist and one who is considered to be the initiator of naval ethnography. Various fun workshops offered to families throughout the summer also allow them to learn more about the history of the citadel.
A network that extends beyond Brittany
Today, the National Maritime Museum is a vast network which aims to promote the history of the French coast to visitors, its specificities as well as to highlight the rich collections that result from it: paintings, various objects. , art, weapons, boats, etc.
Thus, after having discovered the two places which are in Brittany, the public can choose to go to the other museums of the network, which are located in Paris, Rochefort and Toulon. In the capital, the National Maritime Museum takes place at the Palais de Chaillot and will open to the public by 2023 after a period of renovation. The place will highlight the identity and maritime history of France, but will also raise awareness of the challenges and issues surrounding the sea.
In Rochefort, the museum takes place at the Hôtel de Cheusses. The collections include models of ships, models of machines, paintings, sculptures, tools, weapons and other navigation instruments. So many elements that help to understand the arsenal of Rochefort. It also discovers the history of the royal arsenal of Louis XIV and Colbert XVII th to XX thcenturies and in the courtyard of the museum, a full-size replica of the famous raft that saved the crew during the tragic story of La Méduse is presented. Another place to visit absolutely in Rochefort, the Old School of Naval Medicine, unique place in France founded in 1722. It is there that for 240 years, the surgeons on board warships were trained. Today, the school has as it was at the end of the XIX th century. There are collections of anatomy, zoology, botany and ethnography, not to mention the exceptional scientific and maritime library.
Finally, in Toulon in the Var, the National Maritime Museum is a site that houses a very fine collection of galleys and vessels emblematic of the maritime tradition in the Mediterranean. It also endeavors to highlight the presence of the navy in Toulon and the way in which it impacts the development of the city.
From Brittany to Charente-Maritime on the Atlantic coast, passing by the Mediterranean side and Paris, the network around the National Maritime Museum makes it possible to maintain important links with local maritime cultures. It also offers rich, varied exhibitions, and beyond revealing the treasures of French maritime history to visitors, it aims to educate adults and children on the need to protect this essential element of nature that is the sea.