Historic & Cultural Preservation:

Project to Save the Museum of the Assistance

Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris:

An Interview of Project Director Dr. Jean-François Moreau

 by Germaine McCormack-Kós


Who is Jean-François Moreau?  I'm the ongoing President of ADAMAP [Association des Amis du Musée de l'Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris] for a 3-year-mandate (2010-2012). I was an international academic radiologist now retired who has been always fond of history in general and peculiarly of history of medicine.

Why that alert? At the moment and for a while expected to be quite long, the atmosphere has been deleterious at the administration of the Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris, so called AP-HP, the “biggest French academic hospital institution” with 42 active hospitals. We all know AP-HP has to be submitted to drastic and prolonged plans of budget cuttings. This is not a French exception, this is an ubiquitous serious problem because of the destructive socio-economical crisis the world has to afford since 2007. Museums and more generally all items dealing with culture usually are hated by the official administrators having accounting executive functions.


At the Adamap, we can be nothing but alarmed because we know the summertime is propitious for ‘faits accomplis’ decisions of submissions – in this case, to close this museum!


 Adamap’s Executive Bureau believes it is wiser to prevent such a risk by a consistent alert with a strong international campaign before anything negative and irreparable has been done. The risk is plausible and credible and this campaign is necessary against the absurdity of closing this museum.

What is Adamap? L'Association des Amis du Musée de l'AP-HP (ADAMAP) was founded in 2003 in order “to defend and to illustrate” the millenary memory of the social and sanitary role played by the hospitals of Paris since the creation of the Hôtel-Dieu in the early Middle Ages which all visitors of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral on the Ile de la Cité may have seen since 1164 AC. The active life of the Musée de l’AP-HP, governmental institution, is limited by regular but rigid administrative constraints. It needs an association (non-profit) to provide flexibility without any risk of unethical behavior. The museum director Ms Anne Nardin and the Adamap are working synergically and complementarily according to the paradigm “independence within interdependence” popularized by our former Prime Minister, Edgar Faure. This will help the management of our respective cultural programs and the search for patrons.


Adamap edits and publishes a quarterly Letter. It owns its website opened in 2008. Moreover, not only do we have to conserve existing history but we also must increase the items with contemporary exhibits. We must conserve these important testimonies of medical history of the AP-HP. The official budget of the Museum cannot support the amount of expenditure required to achieve such a goal.

What is the Musée de l’AP-HP? The Musée de l’AP-HP is the first French hospital museum in size and in age. It was created in 1934, a symbolic year when the government established a political program of great works in order to fight against the catastrophic socio-economical consequences of the crisis of 1929-1930. Then the famous but old Hôpital de la Charité de Paris founded in 1613 was destroyed in order to build a new school of Medicine, rue des Saints-Pères, Paris VII. A new hospital was built in Clichy (hôpital Beaujon) and the medical activity was transferred to the Hôpital Broussais. Fortunately, some VIPs demonstrated that the worthy cultural treasure of La Charité needed to be conserved and exhibited in a dedicated Museum. Since 1994, it is located inside the prestigious Hôtel de Miramion, a palace built in the XVIIth Century at the Quai de la Tournelle, facing the Ile Saint-Louis on the left bank of the River Seine, belonging to the AP-HP. It is annually visited by more than 20000 people. Its only handicap is its small size.

Is that sufficient reason for this unacceptable closing? Not at all indeed. To be honest, until now, the ongoing Directeur Général de l’AP-HP, Mr Benoît Leclerc, has expressed his sympathy to the Adamap (http://www.adamap.fr/musee.html) <http://www.adamap.fr/musee.html%29>  thus to the Musée. However, the administration of AP-HP is just experiencing a new system of rules and regulations with new executive and consultative bodies and nobody knows when his term should expire. This may happen tomorrow or much later and his successor might have a different vision of the future of the Museum. Until now the tutor of the AP-HP was the Mayor of Paris. Since the end of June, the AP-HP is administered by the national government under President Sarkozy. But, as for our Museum, this doesn’t appear to be so simple because, contrary to the AP-HP itself, it’s not under the full administration of the Minister of Health and Sports, Ms Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin.


The Museum is indeed Musée de France-labelled. This means that it is submitted for the so-called law of 2002 governing the National Patrimony, therefore it is supposed to be more or less independent from the Minister of Culture, Frédéric Mitterrand.

This is all politics. Are you political? Certainly not if you think a politician reflects a subordination to a given political party. The Adamap is not linked to any political party, whether it is governmental or leftist at the moment. I support the concept of giving the knowledge of history a prominent place in a plan aiming to adapt a social and sanitary politics to the modernity. The result of a given think-tank wouldn’t be efficient without clear previous understanding of what was done in the past in the field submitted for change. Sometimes the cause of a pitfall is based upon an insidious mistake made one century before. For instance, how to explain the development of nosocomial infections without knowledge of its follow-up in public health through the XXth Century? A pertinent museum should provide the evidence of a modern theory taken from its archives.

But this Museum is so small, isn’t it? Yes it is but we’re not alone. There are four Museums in Paris combining their efforts in the conservation of the treasures of their institutions. We’ve an excellent relationship with the Musée d’Histoire de la médecine located at the Université Paris Descartes which is administrated by Ms Véronique Clin, president of the World Association of the Medical Museums as we do with the Musée Pasteur and the Musée Curie. We’re establishing relationships with other national and international Museums, such as the Musée Marey de Beaune.

Why an international campaign to solve a Parisian problem? Because I’m convinced that the conservation of the memory is ubiquitously important to all professionals interested in medicine and public health. There’re plenty of Museums dealing with medical topics around the World. Most of them look more like local chapels than a Louvre or a National Gallery. I started being concerned when I knew that the Musée Marey was closed because of the unsafety of the building where it was hosted in Beaune. Marey’s opus is at the birth of many techniques including cinematography. His history is linked with the founder of Stanford University and his photographer, Muybridge, with whom he shared his discoveries and his inventions.


How do you imagine this is possible to re-open that Museum while the treasures can’t be exhibited in the fabulous city of Beaune, famous because of the Burgundy wine of course and the magnificent old Hospices too. A year ago I contacted the president of Stanford University unsuccessfully but the famous neuroendocrinologist Roger Guillemin, awarded Nobel Prize in 1977, who was born in Burgundy before he migrated to the USA and he settled at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, accepted to take over and he got the expected encouraging answer.


I have the intuition that the time has come to have a project for a larger Museum of medicine combining the conservation and the exhibition of all real and virtual archives spread out over the World. This would be one of the most cost-effective ways of education offered the 9 billion people supposed to live on the Planet Earth by 2050. All this is possible with the Internet but the latter cannot fully replace humans and buildings.


All those technocrats who aim to control the health care expenditures would spend more and more money for less and less success. I’m a citizen of the World. ‘The world is flat’, as the famous journalist of the New York Times, Thomas Friedman, has stated wisely in his book about his new life in the Global Village!


About the Interviewer: Germaine McCormack-Kós is an international artist and producer. As an active member and international councillor of ADAMAP, she is the first signator to the petition and she participates in the English-speaking lobbying campaign.


Jean-François Moreau, MD, FACR is an Emeritus Professor of Radiology at Paris Descartes University, the Honorary Chairman, Radiology Department at Necker Hospital, and the Founder and President of the World Academy of Sciences and Technologies of Imaging (WASTI, 2009). Dr. Moreau is also a writer, historian, photographer and reporter, as well as Publisher and Webmaster of ADAMAP http://www.adamap.fr/.


Important Note: BWW Society Members who wish to join hands with Dr. Moreau in a show of support for saving a valuable facet of the cultural heritage of the French Republic are invited to sign the Petition on-line, via the website: http://www.adamap.fr/petition.html


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