Mr Honorary President, Mr Jean Favier, Mr President, Mr Jean Pierre RiouxMesdames and Gentlemen Professors, Ladies and Gentlemen Conservatives, Dear Friends,

“Ignorance of the past is not limited to harming the knowledge of the
present: it compromises, in the present, the very action.”
the great historian Marc Bloch, the author of the Thaumaturga Kings but also
The Strange Defeat, raises the stakes of the subject that brings us together today.
I am, as you can imagine, particularly pleased to welcome you on rue de
Valois, to see again with great pleasure many of you, to
the occasion of the installation of the House’s Scientific Steering Committee
of the history of France, announced by the President of the Republic on 12
last September in Lascaux. I want to thank you personally
and the warm time and energy you will devote to this
major project. One sequence ends: the three reports
that have drawn lines and worked on the feasibility of the
project. That time is behind us. A page turns, a new stage
opens now: that of the elaboration and definition of the heart
project. It will be entrusted to the High Level Steering Committee
that you have agreed to join and that will be placed under the
Honorary Presidency of Professor Jean Favier, former Director of
Archives de France and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, including the
Professor Jean-Pierre Rioux as Chair
Inspector General Dominique Borne will be the General Rapporteur. In full
agreement with most of you, I wanted to tighten it up because this Committee
will be a forum for reflection, elaboration and work in the
next weeks and months, to bring to the association
Prefiguration - whose presidency I have entrusted to Jean-François Hebert and
who will be responsible for the implementation of this project - all the expertise
will be able to demonstrate in all fields and disciplines of
history. I wished it diverse and plural in order to guarantee the fields
covered by the subjects, from prehistory to the history of present time, from
the Iron Age to the very contemporary. I wished it finally open to others
social sciences that dialogue with history, open to the diversity of
epistemological and scientific approaches to the past, finally open to
European issues and international perspectives. Public uses of
history has caused much ink to flow in recent years,
in line with the work of Reinhardt Koselleck, who
Article Time and History: Every man, every human community
has a space of lived experience, from which we act, in
that what happened is present or remembered, and horizons of waiting,
according to which we act».
I have consulted widely with historians, intellectuals, educators and
Heritage and History Museum Specialists to hear from
many voices on this cultural project to which you all know,
I give the highest price. I have heard their remarks, their
observations, I wanted to confront the points of view, with respect for
diversity and plurality of opinions. I measured with Jacques Le
Goff the importance of an open network on heritage, cultural
memories and diversity of lived stories; I measured with Marc
Ferro, Jacques Revel and Patrick Boucheron – with whom we
have exchanged and dialogued calmly recently – the need for a
The European Commission’s
not folded into an essentialist and unifying narrative, taking
the richness of our historical writings and the contribution of the school of
Annales, des interrogations de Michel de Certeau dans l'invention du
or, more recently, the history of gender. I understood
and the importance of the transmission and valorization of the
historical knowledge through image, audiovisual and tools
will be at the heart of the Maison’s Internet portal project
of history, a portal that provides as comprehensive a
knowledge, seminars, ongoing debates on the history of our country –
this is the first pillar – a portal that will also
map history museums and places of memory that shape
a true mosaic and for which there is to date no entry
common, no coordinated tool – this is the second pillar.
The Maison de l'histoire de France will be a place where the
research and historical knowledge, but also a place of education and
to a wide audience. It will also be a place, a
keystone, so to speak: school students, but also tourists
visit the gardens of the Rohan-Soubise quadrilateral which
will be open to the public from next June, before the
construction of a gallery of time, spaces for exhibitions
temporary, auditoriums, projection rooms to benefit from the
thousands of m² available after the transfer of contemporary funds
National Archives to the new site of Pierrefitte, whose
represents 66,000 m². A prefiguration exhibition is planned at the beginning
opening in 2015. It is planned to open the facility in
is not, as you will have understood, to create a reposoir for the novel
to build a conservatory of the past, but to open the
questioning, dialogue, exchange, our history in the mirror of
Europe and the world. Your presence today shows the way
and I hope that it will create the conditions for a serene work and a
dialogue found between those who experience and work on the past,
in their diversity.
I know that this project is the subject of questions, questions, sometimes
controversy. To ignore it would be a mistake, if not a mistake. It
however, it seems to me that the composition of this Policy Committee
who will consult, listen and work with historians but
French and European heritage and heritage professionals
history museums is a guarantee of independence, credibility and
sustainability for the project.
Without history, a country falls into oblivion of itself: it forgets its
values, he forgets continuities and breaks, shadows and lights,
he finally forgets the thread of conquests and progress that lead him to the
present time. In the face of a future that arouses fear, anxiety, and
increasingly experienced future in the mode of impending crisis, or
immediate disaster – what François Hartog describes as the
change in the “historicity regime” - I think it is essential to
so that the memory transmission benefits from an identified place. In
his incisive essay, Jean-Pierre Rioux asserts that France loses the
memory»: Which Frenchman knows today the edict of Villers-Cotterêts,
which for many years sets the place of the French language in
our administrative law? Are there not in these benchmarks the
conditions of a common memory that guarantees a more readable future and
more intelligible? In other words, know yesterday for tomorrow, better
prepare the challenges of the future: diversity in French society in the 21st century
century, globalisation, the ambition of a Europe of
culture and knowledge. None of these challenges can ignore the
and on the “wounds” of memory, this
memory that places of interpretation of history have the ambition to
to transmit and pacify, without denying the depth and irreducibility of
human trauma of the past, as has been shown in all of his work
Paul Ricoeur.
It is not just a museum, it will be a House, that is
a place open to the community of historians, open to young people
researchers, but also a popular place, rich in debates, meetings,
audiovisual festivals, in other words a place for the greatest
the public is able to satisfy all audiences. The public is
true “request for history”, as the Rendez-vous
the history of Blois or the success of television or radio programs
dedicated to history (from Parallel Stories with Marc Ferro to
Concordance des temps ou else La Fabrique de l'Histoire sur France
Culture). Thanks to an innovative digital space, this house of history
map existing historical sites and museums on all
the national territory. It will be a place to promote research and
knowledge, but also a place of education and transmission for the
public. In the mirror of our European neighbours, with whom we bond
so many conflicts and peace, dear Etienne François, you who have been
many years, in Gottingen then in Berlin a «smuggler» between
Germany and France; the mirror of the “other shore” of the Mediterranean and
of these territories marked by the seal of the colonial past and tears
still alive with decolonization on the history of which you have so much
product, dear Benjamin Stora.
I think it is both natural and necessary that it should be based on a
successful collaboration with our national museums – and I want to salute
the presence of Elisabeth Taburet, General Curator of Heritage and
director of the Museum of the Middle Ages, which represents within your
9 national museums of the Ministry of Culture and
Communication that form the “first circle” on which
the heritage project of the House can be supported: Les Eyzies, Saint-
Germain en Laye, Cluny, Ecouen, Pau, Malmaison, Compiègne,
Fontainebleau, the museum of plans and reliefs, rich of collections
exceptional, both witnesses of history and works of art of
In particular, they will bring their expertise and
museum experience at the Maison’s project, and shed light on the issues
through a discipline that is dear to me, the history of art,
which will have its place in this project.
These nine internationally renowned museums will make up some of the
the basis of a network of history museums, of which our country is so rich
and places of major memory. This network, at the
the constitution of which you will participate is called to grow and
link with local and regional authorities wishing to participate in this project
and make the dissemination of history, alongside us, a priority. The
participation of all these heritage places and their designers,
and historians, will greatly enrich, I am sure,
through their diverse and enriching experiences, the house of
history of France, and will make this project a truly national project and not
not only Parisian, because it’s all the audiences, everywhere on
our territory, which our ambition must touch.
I hope that in all the diversity of his skills, his
expertise and its professions, from curator to museographer, from
restorer to the responsible of the public, this Ministry serves this beautiful project
support you in your commitment. I am confident that he is
Department of Artists and Creation, but that it is also the
Memory of what must be bequeathed and transmitted to the younger generations, to
those who live in France as well as those who love France in the
world. And I like to think that the framework of the nation remains relevant, if we
is willing to admit that the French nation is neither a clan, nor a race, nor
a tribe. The nation is what gives access to this supreme dignity
of free men called citizenship, which is what we
exercises what the great historian of antiquity Claude Nicolet - recently
which I would like to pay tribute to today - called the
“profession of citizenship”.
In this regard, I would like to quote Jean-Pierre Rioux: It is a question of reducing the
temporal fracture, the one that breaks the chain of becoming, the one that leaves
free course to the present, one who ignores a future without beyond and who, from this
made, instrumentalizes at any chance and at all the past». That’s the whole meaning
of the project for which you have decided to commit and for which
you decided to put your energy and skills - and I know
that they are great. This is the ambition of the house of history of
France: it is an ambition at the service of the Republic, it is an ambition
at the service of citizenship, it is an ambition that listens to diversity
memories, heritage and cultures in France
of today.
Those who see in this project the traces of an incurable nostalgia, of a
history that would be a “safe haven value” is wrong. Those who say
it neglects the consubstantial link between the past and the future. Being
indeed, it is not being without memory! If we want to be
the actors of our own future, we first have a duty of history.
This duty is yours today.