History of the museum

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A museum dedicated to the local celebrity


Following the painter’s death in 1877, a number of exhibitions were organised in his birthplace, Ornans, particularly through the determination of his sister, Juliette, who dedicated her life to her brother’s work and was his sole legatee. Today, visitors can learn about the life and work of this local celebrity in a building situated at the heart of the town and the landscapes that so inspired the painter.


The childhood home

The Hôtel Hébert was the first “museum house” dedicated to Gustave Courbet in 1971. The house was built in the 16th Century then rebuilt in the 18th Century and has been listed as a Historic Monument since 1982.  The Courbet family lived there for several years during Gustave’s childhood. With the support of the Doubs Departmental Council, the Friends of Gustave Courbet Association (AAGC) founded by the painter Robert Fernier, a distant relative of Courbet, bought it in 1971 and obtained a grant to develop the building. The first Courbet museum finally opened 94 years after the painter’s death.

A “museum house” from 1976

No longer able to cope with the many costs linked to the building, the AAGC sold the Hôtel Hébert to the Doubs Departmental Council in 1976 pour a symbolic franc but continued to run the museum and organise exhibitions. The “museum  house” contained a kitchen, a bedroom in which Gustave Courbet is thought to have been born and an attic converted into a studio. A number of exhibitions took place here. Seeking to enlarge the museum, the authority acquired two adjoining buildings, the Hôtel Champerreux in 1994 and the Maison Borel in 2003. The great museum centre project could now begin.

The Courbet museum inaugurated in July 2011

A renovation and enlargement operation was launched in 2007. An architecte, Christine Edeikins, from Atelier 2/3/4, and a museum designer, Bruno  Tainturier, from Guliver Design, were chosen to design and build the project. The Courbet museum was inaugurated four years later. With its central situation in Ornans, on the banks of the Loue, it dedicates over 1000 m2 to the painter’s works. It offers magnificent views over the town, the cliffs and the river, placing Courbet’s paintings right at the heart of the landscapes that so inspired the painter, the whole enhanced by large glass walls that come right down beneath the feet of visitors.