HISTORY OF THE CLEMENCEAU MUSEUM FOUNDATION
8, rue Benjamin Franklin
Georges Clemenceau’s apartment was opened to the public on 29 November 1931, only two years after the Tiger’s death in his bedroom on 24 November 1929.
Clemenceau had lived in this rented apartment since 1896. Concerned that the 85-year old Tiger might have to move due to the impending auction sale of the building, the American philanthropist James Stuart Douglas purchased the property in May 1926 through his Paris agent, Henry Seldon Bacon (thereby also hampering the expansion plans of the neighboring Saint-Louis de Gonzague school).
Following Clemenceau’s death, Bacon created the Clemenceau Museum Foundation and endowed it with the Paris building. The foundation’s purpose then and today is “to preserve the cherished memory of Georges Clemenceau by maintaining his apartment in the state it was found on the day of his death and to collect in the apartment all books or objects that may sustain his remembrance”.
Clemenceau’s three children, Madeleine, Thérèse and Michel, agreed to leave most of the furniture, paintings and other objects in the apartment as a donation to the foundation.
The foundation is managed by a Board of Directors that long consisted of Clemenceau family members (his son was once honorary chairman, his niece and grand-niece successively chaired the Board until 2015), the Tiger’s close associates (Jules Jeanneney, General Mordacq), and dear friends such as Marguerite Baldensperger and Nicolas Piétri.
While this participation remains significant (the Board includes among its members one of Clemenceau’s great grandsons and great grand-nieces and Jules Jeanneney’s grandson, Jean-Noël Jeanneney, is the current chairman), a reform of the foundation statutes in 2006 has led to the recruitment of qualified outsiders (primarily historians) and the largely volunteer-staffed museum administration has become more professional.
Georges Clemenceau’s apartment and garden were listed on the historic register in 1955. Under the auspices of specialized departments at the Ministry of Culture, the foundation has since carried out restoration– when financing permits- whose cost exceeds the variable revenues generated by the building.
The entrance and study in Clemenceau’s apartment were restored to an original state in 2015 thanks to public donations and with the help of various Ministries and private philanthropy. However, restoration is still needed for the bedroom, bathroom, library and dining room, which haven’t been renovated since the 1960s.
A document gallery was inaugurated on 19 May 1937 located on the floor above the apartment. Until recently, the gallery presented Clemenceau’s life and political career chronologically through a substantial collection of documents displayed in cases that were provided at the time by major museums including the Louvre and placed on loan by the Beaux-Arts administration.
To coincide with the centenary of the Tiger’s November 1917 appointment as President of the Council and Minster of War, the foundation finalized the total renovation of this gallery in 2017 including completely revised museography based on modern exhibition design.