A prestigious setting
The Champagne Wine and Regional Archaeology Museum is located in the heart of Château Perrier, a 19th century building classified as a Historic Monument since 2013.
Built between 1852 and 1857 by the Sparnacan architect Pierre-Eugène Cordier, Château Perrier is the first example of the Eclectic architectural style in this region.
The four facades are inspired by French Renaissance architecture and the Louis XIII style, similar to buildings in Paris such as the Palais du Luxembourg, the Palais des Tuileries or the Lescot wing of the Louvre. The sculpted decorations are brought to life by the interplay of the colours of the materials: brick, stone, slate and glass.
The interior decorations, the parquet floors in marquetry or the neo-18th century grid were made by the same craftsmen who decorated the Opéra Garnier or the Hôtel de Ville in Paris.
A symbol of champagne’s expansion throughout the world, the Château Perrier was built to house the mansion and cellars of Charles Perrier, heir and director of the Perrier-Jouët Champagne House.
Pierre-Eugène Cordier designed a place of residence, reception and production of champagne. The cellars dug out underneath the building are connected to the new railway line, inaugurated in 1849 by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, the first president of the French Republic and its future emperor.
Charles Perrier and his wife Octavie Gallice moved to Château Perrier in 1856 and lived there until the end of their days in 1878. Their nephew Henri Gallice then inherited the house and took over the management of the Perrier-Jouët company. An avid hunter, he commissioned the sculptor Pierre Le Nordez to create the statue of the Veneur, which can still be seen today in the main courtyard of the museum.
During the First World War, the Château Perrier was temporarily turned into a hospital; the large cellar welcomed the wounded from an Italian army cantonment. Henri Gallice’s family was particularly committed: his wife Rosalie, his daughter Rose and his daughter-in-law Renée all worked there as nurses for the French Red Cross.
Later, between 1939 and 1940, the castle was home to the British Royal Air Force. It was then occupied by the German army from 1943 to 1944. Finally, the American soldiers who landed in Normandy took control of the place until 1945.
Graffiti on the walls of the castle bear witness to these historical episodes.
After the death of Henri Gallice, the Château Perrier was cleared out and put up for sale. The City of Epernay acquired it in 1943 to install two cultural facilities, the library and the museum. The work was launched at the end of the Second World War, in 1947. A library was installed on the first floor while the museum collections, from three museums, the Art Museum (1893), the Museum of Prehistory and Regional Archaeology (1931) and the Wine Museum (1934), were gradually installed and displayed on the upper floors. The museum was inaugurated in June 1956.
The collections are made up of donations and bequests from collectors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as archaeological artifacts, in particular those donated by Abbé Pierre Favret to the City of Epernay in 1931. At the same time, a section devoted to the ethnographic aspects of winegrowing in the Champagne region was established with the help of the famous curator and museologist Georges-Henri Rivière, who had founded the former Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires in Paris.
After nearly fifty years of activity, the library was moved to new premises in 1995. The old museum was closed to the public for security reasons in 1998.
It is in 2011 that the idea of the current Champagne Wine and Regional Archaeology Museum was born. The scientific and cultural project was validated in 2014 by the Ministry of Culture. The renovation work is entrusted to the architectural firm Frenak + Jullien in 2016 and launched in 2018, under the supervision of the chief architect of historical monuments Lionel Dubois. The Château Perrier has been restored and become the location for a 21st century museum, both entertaining and educational.
• A 4,200 m2 building
• 8 floors
• 96 rooms
• 173 windows
• 8 chimneys
• A 7,500 m2 park
• more than 4,000 pages of archives on the construction of the castle