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Exhibition "Magical Unicorns" at the Cluny Museum, Paris

© Historisches Museum Basel, M. Babey. Wild woman with a unicorn, wool tapestry with silk and gold threads, circa 1500-1510 Inv. 1926.40.

To celebrate reopening after four months of renovation work, the Musée de Cluny in Paris turns the spotlight on a legendary animal with an enchanting exhibition based on the famous tapestry of the Lady with the Unicorn, supported by medieval and contemporary artworks.

The unicorn was not always perceived as the friendly icon that we deem it to be these days. In the Middle Ages, it was credited with magical and evil powers and it was believed that a unicorn’s horn allowed it to detect poisons and purify liquids. For many, it was considered to be a powerful, even belligerent animal that could do much harm.

Dame à la Licorne

The exhibition presents tales and legends starting with six tapestries from around the year 1500 known as “The Lady with the Unicorn” series, part of the permanent collection of the museum. "Magical Unicorns" mixes medieval and contemporary artworks, including some from Jean Cocteau's La Dame à la Licorne ballet, posters by artist Tomi Ungerer, and a video by Maïder Fortuné. And to bring the presentation full circle, the exhibition ends with five tapestries by Claude Rutault which pay homage to La Dame à la Licorne.

This exhibition is an excellent way to rediscover the Musée de Cluny, which has reopened after four months of work, unveiling a new reception building improving the connection between the various buildings that make up the museum. The work is part of a major modernization project of the museum which was founded in the nineteenth century, and will create additional space in 2020.

Musée de Cluny

Cluny Museum, Paris