Albert Kahn Museum and gardens

Posted on September 9, 2014 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Albert Kahn Museum & garden

Traditional Japanese garden


In recent years, nature has become an important part of my life. Even though I still enjoy cultural activities in different cities, I also have the 'need' to connect with nature when I am in London or during my travels.

As I spend more time in nature, I also became interested in landscape design. I never truly appreciated the English landscape gardens until a few years ago, and after visiting many Japanese zen gardens in Kyoto last year, I became equally fascinated by the Japanese zen gardens. Therefore when I found out about Albert Kahn's spectacular 'Gardens of the world' in Paris which includes both English and Japanese gardens, it got me very excited.


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Albert Kahn (1860-1940) was a French banker, philanthropist and humanitarian who financed 'The Archives of the Planet', an ambitious project spanning 22 years to create a colour photographic record of the peoples of the world. ( In 2007, a BBC 5-part documentary, "Wonderful World of Albert Kahn: Archives of Planet" was made on the subject.)

In 1893, Kahn acquired a large property in in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, where he transformed a four-acre land into a garden that contains a variety of garden styles including English, French, Japanese, and a conifer wood.

To my surprise, Albert Kahn Musee et Jardins is still a hidden gem in Paris (probably due to its location), and I didn't see many tourists on the day I visited. Yet this museum and garden is really worth the trip because of the wonderful historical photographs in the museum and its truly amazing garden.


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I love the fact that you can wander from a traditional Japanese style garden into an English style meadow and then all of a sudden, you would find yourself walking through a wood! Aside from the many 'mini' gardens, there is also an outdoor photography exhibition area where they exhibit contemporary photography.


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Kahn traveled to Japan three times during his life time, and it is obvious from his gardens that he was a lover of the Japanese gardens and culture. His Japanese gardens may not be authentic and perhaps slightly of a mish mash ( which gives them more character), but they capture the essence and are visually enticing.

His unique and quirky contemporary Japanese garden is my favourite section. You would find a rocky hill, mini rock garden, Japanese style bridges, stepping stones, and a pond full of koi and rows of bonsais placed on wooden stools. The garden is absolutely delightful and the photos cannot capture the tranquility and beauty of the place.


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Contemporary Japanese garden


Interestingly, I later found out that one of my favourite Japanese architects, Kengo Kuma has won the competition to redesign the existing museum due to begin in 2015. This quite an exciting news as I am sure he would respect Kahn's vision and find harmony between nature, space, light and architecture. His winning proposal can be viewed here.


Address: 10-14 rue du Port, Boulogne-Billancourt, 92100 (Métro Boulogne - Pont de Saint-Cloud). Closed Mondays. Admission: €4.


This post was posted in Travel, Nature, Paris, Anything Japanese, Gardens & parks and was tagged with Japanese designs, paris, gardens, Albert Kahn