What Paul Deschamps set out to do was to bring attention to the wealth of French wall paintings. He started with the Abbey Church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe in the Vienne region, where he had the four murals from the entrance hall reproduced in 1937. These heralded the future “museum of Frescos.” Then between 1940 and 1943 a spectacular relief reproduction was made of the nave.
An extreme fidelity to the original paintings, eschewing interpretation or additions informed the gradual constitution of the collection over time by Paul Deschamps and his successors, Marc Thibout and Philippe Chapu
The “Fresco Museum” was progressively opened to the public: the Romanesque section opening in June 1945, the Gothic section in April 1955, and the paintings of the 15th to 16th centuries in March 1959. Currently the Gallery of Murals and Stained Glass presents a hundred-odd works on the three floors of the Pavillon de Tête, all of them restored during the restructuring of the collections between 2003 and 2007.
Paul Deschamps completed this panorama of French mural art with the creation of a stained-glass gallery. Sixteen representative works of the evolution of stained-glass art in France from the 12th to the 16th centuries were reproduced between 1934 and 1953. Six of these are now on view in the museum’s galleries.