The Inguimbertine Museum will be revealed in its final version next April

After more than fifteen years of work, the Hôtel-Dieu de Carpentras will soon house the museum collections of the Inguimbertine, the only museum library in France. This atypical municipal institution, which combines a public reading space and heritage development, now takes place in one of the largest historical monuments in Vaucluse.

The place has actually been partially open to the public since November 2017 with the inauguration of the reading library in the Hôtel-Dieu. Embellished with several works of art, historical objects and heritage documents, it already offered an overview of the richness of the bibliographic and artistic funds of Inguimbertine. The creation of a museum space proved necessary due to the quality and scale of these collections. From April 19, 2024, the Hôtel-Dieu will exhibit four museum collections (fine arts, ethnology, archeology and decorative arts), coming from the Comtadin-Duplessis Museum, the Sobirats Museum and the Inguimbertine.

The genesis of the latter goes back to the prelate Malachie d’Inguimbert (1638-1757), bishop and patron of Carpentras. A cultured and philanthropic man, d’Inguimbert founded a library in his hometown in 1746 (today named Inguimbertine in his honor). Books, old manuscripts and medals sit alongside some paintings and sculptures. This precious collection was enriched over time thanks to several successive donations, notably that of the doctor and scholar Casimir Barjavel (1803-1868).

In 1847, the town bought his property from the Marquis de Rochegude to transfer the library there. The fine arts collection was moved in 1888 to a museum annex, today called the Comtadin-Duplessis museum. But faced with the lack of space and the unfavorable geographical location of these places, the need to find a more suitable reception space for the library museum became apparent in the early 2000s.

Vacant after the hospital left in 2001, the Hôtel-Dieu in Carpentras proved to be the ideal choice. Classified as a historic monument in 1862, this 10,000 m² building was also founded by the Bishop of Inguimbert in 1762. With the support of the State, the Regional Council and the Departmental Council, the municipality of Carpentras entrusted the construction site rehabilitation at the Atelier Novembre, for a budget of more than 35 million euros. Funding constraints require launching a first phase of work from 2009 to 2017 for the library, then a second for the opening of the museum, initially planned for 2020.

Now completed, the museum is preparing to welcome the public with a permanent exhibition tour of 1,800 m², highlighting the history of Carpentras and Comtat through a selection of around 800 major works and more than 77,000 old books. A space is also provided for temporary exhibitions. The Fine Arts Gallery has a collection of 1,200 paintings and 500 sculptures, dating from the Middle Ages to today. It includes several paintings by Provençal primitives, paintings from northern schools and works by French artists such as Joseph Vernet and Joseph-Siffred Duplessis, portraitist at the court of Louis XVI. The famous painting Kids, created by the impressionist painter Louise Catherine Breslau in 1890, is also part of the collections. Visitors will also be able to admire the reconstruction of the offices of the Bishop of Inguimbert and Barjavel.

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