The Musée Le Secq des Tournelles in Rouen, Normandy (image: Réunion des Musées Métropolitains, Rouen, Normandy © Agence La Belle Vie – Nathalie Landry)

The Musée Le Secq des Tournelles is a museum devoted to the art of wrought ironwork. The idea for the collection came from Jean-Louis-Henri Le Secq Destournelles (1818–1882), a painter who studied in Paris and Rome, and became one of the first photographers in France. As such, he was commissioned by Prosper Mérimée to photograph various French monuments when the latter became head of the historical monument department in 1845. These assignments led to his discovery of numerous pieces of ironwork adorning towns and ancient monuments, and he started his collection in around 1865.
His son Henri (1854–1925) continued to add to the collection before donating it to the City of Rouen in 1917. Shortly before that, in 1900, the collection hit the headlines when Henri Le Secq loaned nearly a thousand objects to the Paris Universal Exhibition (the Ironwork Retrospective section). Rouen, aware of the exceptional nature of this heritage, allocated the fine late-fifteenth-century church of Saint-Laurent to it. The church had been saved from ruin in 1893 and restored in 1911.

The museum was inaugurated there in 1921. Until his death in 1925, Henri Le Secq continued to add to and remodel the museum, where he worked as the curator. A number of connoisseurs subsequently added choice pieces: a donation from Germany (1951), the Bréard legacy (1951), and the Sangnier-Dessirier legacy (1957). As a result, the collection now contains around 16,000 pieces. It offers visitors to Rouen a striking overview of the art of wrought-ironwork: forged and molded pieces as well as those created by silversmiths. Visit the Musée Le Secq’s website at http://museelesecqdestournelles.fr/en.
The Musée Le Secq des Tournelles is one of eight free museums that comprise the Metropole Rouen Normandy. This consortium of museums includes the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts of Rouen), Musée national de l’éducation (National Education Museum) Musée des Antiquités (the Museum of Antiquities of Rouen), and Musée de la Céramique (the Museum of Ceramics), among others. The Metropole Rouen Normandy provides free access to more than 40,000 objects and masterpieces in the Rouen metropolis, including a wide range of subjects that encompass geology, zoology, paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, decorative arts, archeology, numismatics, archives, industrial history, and science.
The partnership between the museums of the Metropole Rouen Normandy and the Clark has been fostered over two decades. They are both founding members of a collaborative network of French and American museums known as FRAME, which launched in 1998 to stimulate cultural exchange among museums from both nations. More about FRAME is found at www.framemuseums.org.