La Samaritaine invites you to discover – or re-discover – the Musée Cognacq-Jay, inextricably linked with the history of the iconic department store and its founders, Ernest Cognacq and his wife, Marie-Louise Jaÿ.
Ernest Cognacq particularly loved 18th century art. Having amassed a fortune from La Samaritaine, he started buying works of art as early as 1892, and collected works both by the great names of painting together with smaller decorative objets d’art. In 1925, he organised the first exhibition of his collection at the La Samaritaine De Luxe boutique (an annex of the main department store) in the Boulevard des Capucines in the Opéra district.
When he died in 1928, the collection was bequeathed to the City of Paris, which took over his museum project. Located next to La Samaritaine’s De Luxe boutique, the three-storey museum contained his entire collection, and was inaugurated on 4 June, 1929, by French President Gaston Doumergue. When the museum closed in 1981, the City of Paris then decided to transfer the collection to the tourist heart of the Marais, which was undergoing a full architectural renaissance at the time.
In 1990, the collections were installed in the Hôtel Donon in the Rue Elzévir. Displayed over three levels in the main building and the gallery level lining the courtyard, the permanent exhibition follows a themed journey through the 18th century, while temporary exhibits take place on the first floor of the museum.
8, rue Elzévir – 75003 Paris – Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00am – 6.00pm. Entry to the permanent collection is free.