History of Maison Suger

A place of residence and research for foreign researchers
Histoire de la Maison Suger
© Emmanuelle Corne

Maison Suger first opened its doors to the public in 1990, marking the culmination of a project dating back to 1985, envisaged by Fernand Braudel, founder of the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (FMSH).

The building located at 16–18 rue Suger, covering an area of 690sqm, began its life as a private hotel before being acquired by the Ministry of Education in 1967, who turned its use toward the administrative services of the Academy of Paris, the administrative district for education corresponding to Paris.[SLB1] 

After several years of occupation, the premises had to be abandoned due to their dilapidation. In March 1987, the Ministry of National Education, Research, and Higher Education decided to entrust the building to the FMSH, agreeing to a forty-year emphyteutic lease to convert it into a residence for researchers.

An international achievement

Built with the help of public and private funds, institutions, as well as French and international philanthropists and donors, Maison Suger is a shining example of international cooperation.

The lease between the Rectorat de Paris (the local education authority) [SLB1] and the FMSH involved the construction, following demolition or renovation, of a centre for welcoming and accommodating international researchers.

The reconstruction and refurbishment work, carried out by the architect Antoine Grumbach in full respect of the property’s original architectural features, reached a total cost of approximately 33 million francs (or just over €5 million). The restoration was financed mainly by donations (15.5 million francs), by a loan taken out by the FMSH (2.7 million francs and a contribution of financial income totalling 700,000 francs) and by public subsidies from the Ministries of National Education and Culture (nearly 4.6 million and 1.43 million francs respectively).

Among the philanthropists and donors :

  • Volkswagen Foundation
  • Fritz Thyssen Foundation
  • Ministry of Cultural and Scientific Affairs of Norway
  • Swedish Research Council for the Social Sciences
  • Academy of Sciences of the USSR
  • Cambridge University
  • City of Paris
  • Caisse des dépôts et consignations
  • Union des Assurances de Paris
  • Bank of France
  • CIC
  • Private donors (Anna Schlumberger, Louis Dumont, Rudolf Vierhaus, Mme Braudel, M. Bresser Peraira, M. L. Burkart)

Why Maison Suger ?

The FMSH’s mission is to develop interdisciplinarity, institutional partnerships, and internationalisation of research in the humanities and social sciences. Since the 1970s, the growth of international exchanges has been hampered by the lack of facilities to accommodate foreign researchers for extended periods in the centre of Paris, within easy reach of host institutions.

Hotels were, and still are, expensive, a situation that often isolates researchers and leaves them ill-equipped to carry out their research. Few institutions of higher education and research in Paris can offer suitable workspaces to their guests.

Out of this observation and to meet these needs, the idea for Maison Suger was born.