There's a hidden gem in Paris, well, not so hidden as it is since April 2010 located in a beautiful Haussmannian building on the Bd Saint-Germain: the Musée des Lettres et des Manuscrits.
|Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Autograph manuscript illustrated with aquarelle from the author, April 1943-May 1944|
|Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond d'Alembert, Edition of the Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences; des arts et des métiers, Genève, Pellet, 1777-1779, in 39 volumes. |
The museum has some 70,000 pieces in its collection, from which around 250 are on display in its permanent collection, and other pieces are shown in various temporary exhibition (one about Romain Gary is currently on show until 3 April 2011).
|Jacques Brel's Cahier a spirales vert, 1964|
The permanent collection is divided into thematic sections: History, Sciences and Discoveries, Music, Arts, and Literature. By clicking on each of the thematic sections' links, you can explore some of the pieces of the collection. Going from section to section the visitor will have the chance to discover a wide range of original letters and manuscripts, like documents from the Second World War -including letters from Charles de the Gaulle or the cease-fire order signed by Eisenhower, Einstein's notes on the Theory of Relativity, a letter from Charles Darwin, an original partition by Beethoven, notes and letters by Chanson Francaise artists Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg, and last but not least, letters by the greatest writers of French literature including Balzac, Zola, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Hugo, and many many more. One of my personal highlights was Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's window including a letter he wrote to a young female officer he met in Algeria and was in love with, and the movingly beautiful drawings with words of Le Petit Prince.
|Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Autograph manuscripts illustrated with aquarelles from the author, April 1943-May 1944|
Photos without flash are allowed in the museum. The museum website has much better pictures than the one I took with my iPhone (and are of poor quality I admit but still useful to illustrate this post).