Lyon holds a proud place in the history of filmmaking. The Cinematograph was first created in the appropriately named ‘rue du Premier-Film’, located in the Monplaisir neighbourhood which is today home to the Institut Lumière, an association which preserves and celebrates Lyon’s cinematic heritage. An essential part of its mission is as curator of the Musée Lumière
Founded in 1982, the museum is located in the Villa Lumière, once the family home of the Lumière family, and is beside the only remaining part of the factory, the shed known as “le Hangar” where instantaneous photographic plates were produced. Le Hangar also doubled as a film studio; indeed, it is believed to be the world’s first film studio. The famous motion picture of 1895, “Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory”, features the Lumière bros’ own employees leaving the Hangar after a normal day’s work.
The Lumière Brothers
Auguste Lumière, 1862 – 1954, and Louis Lumière, 1864 – 1948, were Lyonnais producers of photography equipment. They are best known for their Cinématographe motion picture system and the numerous short films they produced from 1895 to 1905. On the 22nd March 1895, the brothers held a screening of their films in Paris for approximately 200 members of the “Society for the Development of the National Industry”. This is believed to have been the world’s first presentation of films on a screen for a large audience. Their first commercial public screening, which was held on the 28th December 1895 in the Grand Café in Paris, has traditionally been considered as the birth of the cinema.
The Musée Lumière pays tribute to brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière and celebrates their finest inventions in the elegant setting of what was the family home. Constructed from 1899-1902, the villa boasts richly crafted ceilings, a monumental staircase and a garden glass roof.
The visit takes visitors on a journey through three floors and twenty-one rooms. Centre stage is, of course, given to the Cinematograph, the most famous invention of the frères Lumière. The Cinematograph is presented in its part of the history of the first animated images in the form of the magic lanterns through Louis Lumière’s own prototype, developed in 1894.
The exhibition presents technical triumphs such as Edison’s kinetoscope, the Demenÿ chronophotograph, and the “N°1” Lumière Cinematograph. The Lumière Cinematograph was used to record the images that were famously projected at the Grand Café in 1895.
The tour features works by Lumière operators made during their travels around the globe to record life in different countries. An entire room is dedicated to the films of Gabriel Veyre, the most famous of the Lumière travellers, who focused on South America and Asia.
Other devices invented by the Lumières include the Photorama, which was used for 360° panoramic images, or the stereoscopic projector which displayed 3D films. The main product produced by the Lumières, from which they earned their living, were the photographic “dry plates”, which are on display together with a mock-up of the factories and a number of vintage advertisements. Another part of the museum is dedicated to another famous invention of the Lumière brothers, the Autochrome plates. These plates are the ancestors of slides.
Beyond photography and cinema, Auguste and Louis Lumière also invested a great deal of their time and efforts in other matters, including sound, mechanics and medical research. The exhibition includes an articulated ‘pincer hand’ that was designed by Louis Lumière. The purpose of this invention was to help amputees following the First World War. The ‘Tulle gras’ dressing developed by Auguste Lumière during the same war to assist the healing of burns and wounds also features.
Digital tablets together with an audio-guide in French, English, German, Italian and Spanish are available.
Between the Villa and the Hangar are the Lumière gardens which can make for a pleasant break during a day’s sightseeing.
Walk of Fame
Lyon’s walk of fame features plaques celebrating those filmmakers who have presided over previous editions of the Festival Lumière.
The Festival Lumière takes place every October, launched in 2009 by the Institut Lumière, the festival has grown into one of the world’s largest international classic cinema festivals of classic cinema.
Institut Lumière Cinemas
L’Institut Lumière owns three cinemas in Lyon which tend to showcase arthouse and international films;
- La Fourmi – 68 Rue Pierre Corneille, 69003 Lyon
- CNP Terreaux – 40 Rue du Président Édouard Herriot, 69001 Lyon
- CNP Bellecour – 12 Rue de la Barre, 69002 Lyon
Address: 25 Rue du Premier Film, 69008 Lyon
Transport: The entrance to the museum is less than 100m from the Monplaisir-Lumière metro station (line D).
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10.00 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.
– Unguided visit;
- Full rate: €7.00
- Reduced rate: €6.00 (This applies to those under 18, people over 60, the unemployed, students and school groups, teachers, the disabled visitors and their helpers)
- Groups of at 7 persons or large families: €5.50
- Free for Children under 7
– Audio guides are available in English, German, Italian and Spanish for €3.00, in addition to the entrance fee.
– Guided tours for individual visitors (in French) are available for €3.00 in addition to the entrance fee.