Île d'Aix - Musée Napoléon © Pierre Holley

The Napoleon Museum

From a modest house to a national museum


The house was bought by Baron Napoleon Gourgaud (1891-1944), great grandson of General Gaspard Gourgaud (1783-1852), who was present when the Emperor left the Île d'Aix ,and who would follow him to Saint Helena. Thanks to his wife’s fortune, the rich American Eva Gebhard (1886-1959), Napoleon Gourgaud was able to acquire much historical memorabilia to which he added gifts that he obtained from his friends, many of whom were part of the nobility of the Empire. He opened his Napoleon Museum in the Emperor’s house in 1928, and gave it to the State in 1933 retaining a life interest.

On his death, in 1944, his widow continued his work, and when she died in 1959, the museum became part of the Musée National de Malmaison. Reorganised for the first time in 1970-1971, the museum displays were redesigned in 1994-1995. Each of its ten rooms focuses on a specific theme, retracing, as far as possible, the life of the Emperor and his entourage. Some rooms are devoted to the history of the Île d'Aix, the Gourgaud family and to the legend of Napoleon whose prolific exploits marked the 19th century.