A Few great cities and smaller ones have a museum dedicated to exhibiting art and historical artifacts that essentially are put to the task of telling the history of the city and its cultural contributions. Perhaps the most notable is the Carnavalet in Paris. However less known, and only a short drive or train ride away is the Musée Lambinet which is dedicated to the City of Versailles and which has just been unveiled after having had a major renovation that was definitely worth the wait!
When I attended on the reopening day in September, it coincided with that massively attended weekend of Patrimonie Nationale during which anyone can, for no admission fee, enter museums and historic houses (including some like government ministries not usually accessible to the public) The crowds were predictably considerable and daunting. But it was also encouraging as it showed just how much the local Versailles community love their museum which is virtually unknown in the USA - even among the most committed lovers of the 18th French Century.
The Musée Lambinet is a municipal museum in Versailles telling the history of the town. Since 1932 it has been housed in the Hôtel Lambinet, a hôtel particulier designed by Élie Blanchard, built in the second half of the 18th century by a part of the Clagny Lake (drained during the reign of Louis XV to encourage the city's expansion and development) and left to the town of Versailles by the heirs of Victor Lambinet (a cousin of the painter Émile Lambinet) in 1929. It has been classed as a monument historique since 1944. Its garden façade has a sculpted pediment representing an allegorical figure of architecture.
The museum has 35 rooms, some with period decor. One one floor is a very charming recreation of a gentleman's domestic establishment with the table laid out for dinner, the toilette table all ready for a gentleman to don his powdered wig, and the gaming table arrayed with cards and tokens to imply someone from the glorious 18 eme is just about to walk in the rooms to enjoy a convivial game of whist!
There are collections on the town's history on display, such as furniture, ceramics and objets d'art as well as historic plans of the town and paintings, sculptures and other works of art by artists from the town. Indeed, the newly renovated museum now has a worthy gallery on the ground floor to showcase a sumptuous collection of sculpture by one of the city's most celebrated sons, Jean-Antoine Houdon!