Located since 1958 in a former Carthusian monastery, the museum is made up of several buildings: the Hôtel d’Abencourt (1559) and the wing built by the Montmorency family (1608), dominated by a tall square tower. Both Flemish Renaissance facades, these edifices combine stone and brick and are punctuated by mullioned windows, topped by pediments alternately triangular or curved.
In 1620, Jean de Montmorency sold his hotel (private mansion) to the Norbertine monks of Furnes, who resold it to the Carthusian monks in 1662. In order to establish their convent, they built, according to the plans required by the rule of St. Bruno, a small cloister, a refectory, a chapter house and a large cloister (now destroyed) in the Gothic style. They later built a chapel in classical style (1722). These new buildings are connected to older sections by the guest house (or prieuré) constructed in 1690. The guest house anchor plates, in the shape of the fleur-de-lis (stylized lily), remind us that the city was French at the time the building was constructed.
The Carthusian monks abandoned the building in 1791, following the suppression of religious worship. The site was allocated to the army for the whole of the nineteenth century, serving as an armoury and artillery depot until 1940. Listed as a historical monument in 1930, the building was damaged by the bombings of August 11th, 1944.
Close to ruin, it was acquired by the city of Douai in 1951, who wished to use it to house the collections of the city’s museum (the actual museum having been destroyed in August 1944). The Musée de la Chartreuse partially opened on 3 May 1958. Subsequently, the refectory of the Carthusian monks was restored (1966, 2008), as was the chapter house (1964, now the temporary exhibitions room) and later the chapel (2001).
A recreation project of the monastic gardens was carried out in 2015 - the fruit of a partnership between the agricultural high school of Wagnonville, the Environment and Gardens Municipal Department of the town of Douai, and the staff of the Musée de la Chartreuse.The Infirmary Garden, the Cloister Garden, the Carthusian Monk’s Garden and the Prior’s Garden are a recreation of those originally planted by the Carthusian monks within the different spaces of the former convent (1662-1791).
Amateur photographer, Augustin Boutique (1862 - 1944), devoted his life to photography and took photographs of the monuments of Douai and the North of France between 1894 and 1914. He travelled all over France photographing the monuments of major cities. He also brought back some incredible pictures of his travels through Europe. The photo library preserves 25,000 glass plates, many of which may be consulted on site.
The large collection of the photothèque Augustin Boutique-Grard may be visited free of charge on the first floor of the building, located at 191 Rue Saint-Albin.
A series of off-site thematic photographic exhibitions are available for schools, libraries, cultural centres, town halls and museums on a variety of topics ranging from castles in the North of France to rural life or women and festivals: Fêtes et géants du Nord, Le Nord au travail, Villes fortifiées du Nord, Le Nord et la mer, Le Nord : paysages d’eau, Châteaux du Nord, Le Nord au féminin, Familles du Nord, Curiosités du Nord, Patrimoine du Nord, Le Nord rural, Gosses du Nord, Villes et Villages du Nord, Chroniques du Nord, Hommes en Nord, Le Nord fortifié, Le Nord festif.
The collection may be consulted in the reading room from Monday to Friday, afternoons from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturdays by appointment
Closed Sundays, Tuesdays and public holidays
Annual summer holidays in August
Entry of the reading room: free of charge
Contact: Isabelle Turpin
Telephone: +33 (0) 3 27 71 38 91
Fax: +33 (0) 3 27 71 38 93