French museum created in 1937 in the basement of the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, open to the public in 1951. As early as 1944, its curator, Georges-Henri Rivière – nephew of the famous collaborator of the cabaret and shadow theatre, Le Chat Noir (The Black Cat) – had asked his assistant, Pierre Soulier, to research puppet theatre. Soulier developed a passion for the subject and focused his studies mainly on Parisian theatres, those of the Northern region, and those of Lyon. He gathered considerable documentation consisting of surveys, photographs, drawings, posters and puppets, and penned an account of his research in a manuscript entitled Souvenirs d’enquêtes sur les théâtres de marionnettes (Memoirs of an Investigation into the Puppet Theatre). Starting from 1951, puppetry purchases became more sporadic, and the museum took almost no interest in contemporary puppetry arts. However, more than 1,500 puppets were collected, some of which were entrusted to other museums, sometimes consigned to their vaults, except at the Musée Gadagne in Lyon.

After relocating to a building specifically built for it in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, the Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires closed in 2005. It is scheduled to reopen in Marseille in 2013 as part of the Musée National des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM) National Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations. In the meantime, the library and its photo collection remain accessible at 6 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75016 Paris.

(See France.)


  • Guide du Musée national des Arts et Traditions populaires [Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions Guide]. Collective work. Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1987.
  • Les Marionnettes, leur manipulation, leur théâtre [Puppets, Their Manipulation, Their Theatre]. Collective work. Guides Ethnologiques, No. 17. Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1972.
  • Rivière, Georges-Henri, and Pierre Soulier. Théâtres populaires de marionnettes [Popular Puppet Theatres]. Guide-catalogue. Paris: Éditions des musées nationaux, 1952.
  • “Théâtres populaires de marionnettes en marge de l’Exposition du musée des Arts et Traditions populaires” [Popular Puppet Theatre in Conjunction with the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions Exhibition]. Revue d’histoire du théâtre, No. 4. Paris, 1952.