Guadagni Museum of Lyon, France

The Guadagni Museum, in French Musee’ Gadagne, used to be a palace, owned by the Guadagni Family in Lyon, France. It used to be called “Hotel de Gadagne” not because it was a hotel, but because in French “palaces” are often called “(private) Hotels”. For two generations in the 15th and 16th centuries most of the Guadagni family lived in Lyon, including our direct ancestors. They had moved there to escape the persecutions of Cosimo de’ Medici, who had been sent in exile by the “President of the Republic of Florence” (“Gonfaloniere”) Bernardo Guadagni(1367-1434). After one year of exile, Cosimo de’ Medici had been able to return to Florence and decided to avenge himself of the Guadagni and their friends, causing their escape abroad.

Olivieri Guadagni (1452-1541) first generation of Guadagni living in Lyon, married Oretta Giovanni and had 11 children. Some of them, like Pierre, Thomas II and Paul-Antoine, remained mostly in Lyon, where they became wealthy and famous. Others, like Iacopo and Filippo returned to Florence, made peace with the ruling Medici Family, and became wealthy and powerful there. From Iacopo Guadagni(1497-1569) descend all of the actual Guadagni. From his brother Filippo Guadagni(1504-1555) descend all of the actual Torrigiani, after Filippo’s descendant, Pietro Guadagni (1773-1848), adopted the Torrigiani surname of his mother, last of her family. In France the Guadagni were called Gadagne.

On November 6,1545, Guillaume and Thomas III Guadagni, or Gadagne, as they are now called, children of Thomas II, bought the Pierrevive palace in the historical center of Lyon. The palace was very large but the Guadagni made it even larger and embellished it. It is the biggest Renaissance Palace in Lyon. The back of it rests against the big Fourvieres hill on which old Roman Lyon used to be built during the Roman Empire. Thus, when you get to the fifth floor of the palace, on the front you see below you all of old Renaissance Lyon, with its narrow streets, and beautiful antique Gothic churches, in the back, you get out of a gate and you walk on the grassy slope of the hill, still attached to the palace, slightly higher than the top of the 5th floor. It is really unique, Carlo and I have been there. The Guadagni added other neighboring houses and palaces to it. Eventually it became so large that it blocked the circulation from one side of Lyon to the other. After the Guadagni sold it, the city of Lyon opened a street through it, in the year 1650, calling it Guadagni Street (“Rue de Gadagne” in French).

Other owners lived into it or parts of it in the later centuries. Eventually it was divided into over 100 apartments. However, in 1902 the city of Lyon bought it and opened the Gadagne Museum in 1921. Recently it bought all the buildings on both sides of Guadagni Street to restore it to the size it had when it was owned by the Guadagni. The Guadagni Museum has two museums in it: a museum of History, which is the second largest in France, after the one in Paris, and the International Museum of the Puppet, which is unique in France. You will soon find a link in English to “Le Musee’ Gadagne Histoire de Lyon et Marionnettes du monde” (Guadagni Museum History of Lyon and Puppets of the world) in the link area of the Guadagni Family Website.

Two newspaper articles have been recently written in Lyon on the “Musee’ Gadagne” (Guadagni Museum). They often call it just “Gadagne”, like an old buddy that has been in Lyon forever and everybody knows and does not need any introduction. When Carlo and I went to Lyon for a short three day visit, we were treated like “royalty”. Newspapers interviewed us, important cultural and historical personalities of Lyon dined with us in expensive and exclusive restaurants, we were introduced to people in the street as if we were famous actors or politicians, an envoy of the Mayor of Lyon stayed with us all the time, the manager of the Guadagni Museum took a whole day off to show us the Museum from head to toe, Edouard Lejeune, author of the bestseller on The Guadagni and Lyon never left us and organized our visit in every detail. The people of Lyon love the Guadagni and would like them back. During their stay there, Tommaso Guadagni and his family introduced the silk industry in Lyon, built a large hospital, made it the center of their international banking and many other things. They helped transform Lyon from a Middle-Age town to a modern financial, economic and productive center of Europe. My son Billy, a seminarian soon to be ordained priest, was studying at the Seminary of Strasbourg, France, not far from Lyon, a few years ago. When a French seminarian from Lyon learned that Billy was Isabella Guadagni’s grandson, he asked him to please make himself transfer to Lyon, after his ordination as a priest, so that at least one Guadagni would again live in Lyon.

When Edouard Lejeune was introducing Carlo and me to passers-by in old Lyon and announcing triumphantly:”The Gadagne are back in Lyon!!!” an onlooker said:” I did not know they had ever left Lyon…!” This sentence reflects the close ties between Lyon and the Guadagni Family. Even if they are not there, their spiritual presence remains in Lyon.


 First Article: Metropolitan Newspaper (Lyon Edition) Thursday February 3, 2011, Page 9

Please click here to view or download the article. The document is in French and translated at the bottom of the document and also below.

Gadagne wants to open its doors to the inhabitants of Lyon:

“Enjoy” the museum. This is the goal of Maria-Anne Privat-Savigny, who has been appointed director of Gadagne, after six months of no direction. The new manager wants to rejuvenate and open to the city this structure that brings together the museums of History and of the Puppets of Lyon, both completely renovated since 2009. Maria-Anne Privat-Savigny foresees a close cooperation with other cultural institutions, mostly the libraries and the municipal archives. Partnerships whose goal is the connection of the museum with important events of Lyon and its history.

Another project: develop new ways of visiting the museum. Maria-Anne Privat-Savigny emphasizes: “We want to register Gadagne in the contemporary world. It is not a dusty museum, but a place full of life”. She plans walks in the city, evening debates and more attractive temporary exhibitions. The subject of gastronomy will be presented next November. The new manager hopes Gadagne will become a “window display on Lyon”.

By Gaelle Gres.

Last year alone Gadagne had 90,000 visitors.


Second Article: Newspaper “Lyon Plus” Friday February 4, 2011, page 4

Please click here to view or download the article. The document is in French and translated at the bottom of the document and also below.

The new life of the Gadagne Museums:

Simone Blazy, the ex-director of Gadagne (whom Carlo and I knew well), retired at the end of 2009. Maria-Anne Privat-Savigny has been recently appointed as the new director of the museum. She has a specific goal: to transform the Gadagne Renaissance Palace of Old-Lyon (which houses the Museum of history of Lyon and the International Museum of the Puppet) in “a place full of life”. “You should be able to enjoy the museum in a different way. An institution where you can come and go, where you can really appreciate a work of art”.

In this perspetive, her project is innovative:” We are going to create a permanent route adapted to the public”. She mentions the possibility of utilizing mostly the multimedia support, but also games and music to captivate visitors. Privat-Savigny also thinks about those people who normally do not visit museums:” The museum will come to them” she says. “There is a role that the museum must play; being open to all the inhabitants of the city whose ancestors are not French or at least not from Lyon, so that they can discover in the history of their actual neighborhoods a deeper meaning of life and live better”. The asset will be the beautiful park (of Fourviere hill) at the fifth floor of the Gadagne museum, open freely to everybody.

Furthermore, the management of the museum commits itself to organize a great exhibition every Fall. The first one, this year, from November 15, 2011 to March 2012, will be “The Gastronomy of Lyon”.
Address: 1, place du Petit College, Lyon 5 Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:30 pm. Tel: 04 78 42 03 61


Third Article: Lyoncitoyen March 2011.

Museums to Enjoy

Please click here to view or download the article.

The Guadagni Museums of Lyon have a new director: Maria-Anne Privat-Savigny. She replaces Simone Blazy. The completely renovated Gadagne Museum is made of three units: the History of Lyon Museum, the Puppets of the World Museum, and the Renaissance Palace. Maria-Anne’s goal is to open the three units to the city and to every kind of visitor.

“There are different ways to enjoy a museum: come and see a specific artwork, or participate in a guided visit, or sip a coffee at the Museum Coffee-house, or stroll in the Museum perched gardens on the Fourviere Hill.” This could be the slogan of a campaign. But it is the reality of the Gadagne Museums. Maria-Anne Privat-Savigny wants to open wide the doors of the three Gadagne Museums so that they become places to enjoy and be happy. “I do not want visitors to come only for a complete once-for-all visit, but to come for many short visits where they can do different things and discover various aspects of life every time,” she says.

The Gadagne Museums already offer a large range of activities: - different kinds of visits (with or without guide, for adults, for families, recounted…), workshops, lectures/dances, shows for children and families, for adults, balls – plus the restaurant and the perched gardens. But we also need that the citizens of Lyon and the surrounding area know about these possibilities and make them their own. To instruct them we are going to associate Gadagne with the main happenings of the city: Festival of Lights, Movie Festival, Contemporary Art Festival, April Harvest…We must also organize common projects with the City Archives and Libraries.

And there is an attractive offer for tourists: a free, short and didactic visit that will give them the “keys of Lyon”. Then they will be able to discover the “real city”. Also the economical world will be affected: we will solicit partnership operations with foreign companies who will receive the warmest of welcomes.

Gadagne’s next great exposition will be dedicated to the Gastronomy of Lyon from November 2011 to March 2012.