The Patrimony of the University

Paris Descartes University owns 50 acres of buildings, some of which are both prestigious and listed buildings such as la Sorbonne and the headquarters of the University, on 12 rue de l’École de medecine, in the 6th arrondissement, formerly the Royal College of Surgery.

Prestigious places

In 1769, Louis XV trusted the architect Jacques Gondoin with the building of what was to become the Faculty of Medicine at the beginning of the 19th century; the king himself placed the “last stone” of the amphitheatre in 1774. The building was a master-work in the “Greek style,” very fashionable by the end of the reign of Louis XV. It was extended between 1875 and 1900, and was the centre of the teaching of medicine until the 1950’s.

At that time, the New Faculty of Medicine, located on rue des Saints-Pères, took over. It was built in the massive “art deco” style on the site of the former Hospital of the Charity and was inaugurated in 1953 by President Vincent Auriol. The exterior walls of the University Centre of the Saints-Pères are decorated with 45 medallions, 120 cm in diameter, representing subjects from Antiquity to the Middle Ages; the main gate in bronze was the work of Paul Landowski and represents scenes of men and women in Nature and scenes from Mythology.

The Faculty of Law of Malakoff, formerly the École supérieure d’électricité, is one of the rare buildings devoted to teaching to be built in the 30’s style, in Paris. The Faculty of Pharmacy, on the avenue de l’Observatoire, was built between 1877 and 1882; it was extended many times between 1932 and 1965, and constitutes an impressive architectural ensemble with its “Salle des actes,” an extended reconstruction of the original model dating from the 17th century.

Other more recent buildings are located near hospitals or other prestigious buildings: Cochin and the Convent of Port-Royal, les Enfants Malades and Necker Hospital or Laennec Hospital, notably.

Numerous works of art

The headquarters of the University contains works of outstanding quality: a set of Gobelins tapestries called “The Four Elements,” designed by Charles Le Brun and bearing the arms of Louis XIV, numerous pictures by Van Clève, Philippe de Champaigne, Rigaud, Nattier, and Girodet, and some marble statues by J.B. Lemoyne and Houdon. The architecture of the 18th century (colonnades, great staircases, amphitheatres) and the noble additions from the 19th century create an elegant décor for these works of art.

Paris Descartes University is proud to house many museums. Since 1905, the Musée d’histoire de la médecine  has been located on the second floor of the headquarters of the University. The collections of the Anatomical Cabinet created under the reign of Louis XV were the first items of the museum, which increased as a result of donations and legacies. Paintings, engravings, lithographs, tokens and medals are exhibited together with an outstanding collection of surgical and physiological instruments. This museum, restored and largely open to the public, has become “The Museum of University Teaching and Research” (Musée de l’enseignement supérieur et de la recherche).

The beautiful collection of china pots and bronze mortars of the Faculty of Pharmacy must be noted, together with the Museum of Medical Matters (Musée des matières médicales), which is one of a kind in the world, and whose collections have been regularly enriched since the beginning of the 18th century.

Last, let us mention the ancient collections of the Intervarsity Library for Health (BIU Santé), which is regarded as one of the three best-stocked libraries in the world. The library owns all the documents which concern medical and pharmaceutical knowledge since the 15th century, in the most beautiful original editions, and provides an exceptional stock of material for research for all the researchers and the members of the general public interested in the history of health, in the library as well as on theweb .

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