The museum-reliefs maps present a unique collection of relief maps of fortresses dating, essentially the xvii th century xix th century. It is located at the Hotel des Invalides in the 7 th arrondissement of Paris .
The collection is constituted in 1668 at the initiative of Louvois Minister of War of Louis XIV . The first model to be executed was that of Dunkirk . It was quickly followed by those of Ath and the citadel of Lille . In single ladder 1 foot to 100 fathoms , that is to say of approximately 1/600 th since 1680, they are a testimony of the state of these towns or fortresses at that time. According to the inventory drawn up by Vauban in 1697, the collection, installed in the palace of the Tuileries , included 144 reliefs , representing101fortified sites . Initially, they were intended to be seen only by the king and his staff. Models made under Louis XIV, there are only thirty.
In 1700, the collection moved to the Louvre Palace , where it was installed along the Bord-de-l’Eau Gallery. The models began to be considered as works of art, access of which was granted, with permission, to selected visitors. In 1776-1777, the collection was installed in the attic of the Hotel des Invalides . The move led to the destruction of some models. Many others, having been damaged, were repaired.
By the law of July 10, 1791, the relief plans were entrusted to the fortifications committee and continued to report to the Ministry of War. In 1794, a new plan was created, that of Toulon , intended to commemorate the siege of Toulon by the English in 1793. It was also from 1794 that the collection was opened once a year to the public for a month. It was so until 1914.
New relief maps were created under Napoleon. In 1814, during the occupation of Paris by the allies following the fall of the First Empire , the Prussians put their hands on 17 relief plans representing sites of the North and East, which were transported to Berlin . They were considerably damaged during the bombing of the city during the Second World War . Only the Lille plan was considered worthy of being recovered by the French authorities in 1948. We do not know what happened to the others.
Some plans were even made in the xix th century, but in 1870, the War Department thought that the evolution of the art of war made this type of fortifications obsolete. The collection was then attached to the Geographical Service of the army and it was limited to maintain the existing models.
If 260 relief maps were created between 1668 and 1870, representing 150 fortified sites , the vicissitudes of history have resulted in the disappearance or destruction of many of them.
The collection was classified a historical monument on July 22, 1927 and the museum opened in 1943. The museum kept a hundred relief maps. In 1984, it was decided to transfer the museum to Lille, but the Minister of Culture, François Léotard interrupted the move in 1986. Fifteen models of cities fortified by Vauban in the north of the Kingdom of France were entrusted to the palace of the beautiful arts of Lille in the 1990s. 28 reliefs are currently on display.