Exhibition of the collections
The Museum of the Order of Liberation is dedicated to the order founded by General de Gaulle during World War II and to the Companions of the Order of Liberation. Its collections retrace the journey of Free French and Internal Resistance fighters and those who were deported for resisting Nazi oppression. Recently renovated, the museum presents over 2,000 pieces illustrating Companions’ journeys in a 1,200-m2 space.
The personal documents and artefacts that make up the permanent collection were mostly donated by the Companions of the Liberation themselves or by their families. They testify to the commitment and ordeals experienced and retrace the history of Free France from 1940 to 1945.
The permanent exhibition presents the Companions’ journeys in three main sections:
While many of the pieces are highly exceptional due to their rarity, they are also special because of the people they belonged to.
Of note amongst the pieces on display are items of clothing that belonged to Jean Moulin and Commandant – later Marshal – Leclerc, pennants taken from the enemy on the battlefields of Africa and Europe, weapons, insignia and emblems of the Companions of the Liberation, the first Free France naval flags, original drawings produced in concentration camps, tracts, newspapers and clandestine radio transmitters.
One room is dedicated to the founder of the Order, presenting all his French and foreign decorations, his last military outfit and some of his most important war manuscripts, including the original manuscript for his “To all French people” appeal poster.
In 1967, as decided by its founder and grand master General de Gaulle, the Order of Liberation moved into the Robert de Cotte wing of the Hôtel National des Invalides.
It was against this prestigious backdrop in the heart of historical military Paris that the second French national order – keen to see the memory of the Companions of the Liberation preserved – conceived its museum.
It opened its doors in 1970, at the instigation of Claude Hettier de Boislambert – third Chancellor of the Order – and his wife, Odette de Boislambert.
The Museum of the Order of Liberation was fully renovated between 2012 and 2015. Thanks to its location within Les Invalides, a major tourist hub for the capital, it attracts an average of 100,000 visitors per year.
Numerous educational initiatives have been developed to pass on the values of the French Resistance to the younger generations, and a specially designed circuit makes the permanent collections accessible to children.
The museum also houses a research and documentation centre (individual files for the Companions of the Liberation, press and periodicals collection, nearly 6,000 publications and 30,000 photographs).
The purpose of the Association des Amis du Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération (friends of the museum) is to support and promote awareness of the museum, improve its reputation across France and internationally, as well as to foster the expansion of its collections.