History of the Museum
Discover the private world of Victor Hugo. Get to know the man, the visionary artist, the proactive thinker and, of course, the writer of genius.
Visit the places where he lived
In 1901, in anticipation of Victor Hugo's centenary, and in agreement with the poet's grandchildren (Georges and Jeanne) and their mother (Alice Lockroy), Paul Meurice made a proposal to the City of Paris to create a “Maison de Victor Hugo”, similar to the houses of Dante, Shakespeare or Goethe. The location that was chosen was the Hôtel de Rohan Guéménée, at 6, place des Vosges, where the poet lived from 1832 to 1848, and which was owned by the City of Paris.
Opened on 30 June 1903
The museum is a testament to the dedication and magnanimity of Paul Meurice. He generously he donated his own collection, and also acquired Juliette Drouet’s collection (which had been inherited by her nephew Louis Koch) to give to the museum. He used his royalties from the final edition of The Works of Victor Hugo to purchase additional works or solicit donations to fill in the gaps. He also commissioned living artists to celebrate Hugo and his work, and financed some of the renovation work. He was, above all, the true creator of this museum. He got the family on board and inspired their generosity. They supported the project with particularly important donations, such as the portraits from Hauteville House and the room where the great man died.
Donation in 1927
The family’s generosity continued. In 1927, two years after Georges Hugo's death, his sister and children (Marguerite, François and Jean), donated Hauteville House to the City of Paris. This was the house that Hugo had acquired and refurbished on Guernsey. Hauteville House symbolises Hugo's exile, where he wrote so many great works. And through its remarkable décor, it is also embodies the poetic and philosophical world of Victor Hugo. Later, from the end of the Second World War until 1980, the painter, Jean Hugo, built up the museum's collection of manuscripts, which was completed by donations from collectors. Throughout the history of the museum, an active acquisition policy and numerous donations have continued to grow the collection.
Visitors to Guernsey can discover this sanctuary, which has been preserved in its entirety. In Paris, the museum comprises Victor Hugo's apartment on the second floor and a temporary exhibition space on the first floor.
The museum remains faithful to the purpose that Paul Meurice defined from the outset. It aims to give a well-rounded account of the many facets of Victor Hugo: the man, writer and artist, and to bear witness to the role he played in his time, and the impact he has continued to have, right up to the present day.