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The Musée national du Moyen Âge - Thermes et hôtel de Cluny is a museum with a variety of important medieval artifacts, in particular its tapestry collection, which includes the fifteenth century tapestry cycle La Dame à la Licorne (The Lady and the Unicorn). Other notable works stored there include early Medieval sculptures from the seventh and eighth centuries. There are also works of gold, ivory, antique furnishings, stained glass, and illuminated manuscripts.
The structure is perhaps the most outstanding example still extant of civic architecture in medieval Paris. It was formerly the town house (hôtel) of the abbots of Cluny, started in 1334. The structure was rebuilt by Jacques d'Amboise, abbot in commendam of Cluny 1485-1510; it combines Gothic and Renaissance elements.
In 1843 it was made into a public museum. The hôtel was at first part of a larger Cluniac complex that also included a building (no longer standing) for a religious college. Occupants of the house over the years have included Mary Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII of England. Seventeenth-century occupants included several papal nuncios, including Mazarin.
Later, it was used as an observatory by the astronomer Charles Messier. In 1833 Alexandre du Sommerard moved here and installed his large collection of medieval and Renaissance objects. Upon his death in 1842 the collection was purchased by the state and opened as a museum.
The Hôtel de Cluny is partially constructed on the remains of Gallo-Roman baths dating from the third century (known as the Thermes de Cluny), which are famous in their own right and which may still be visited. In fact, the museum itself actually consists of two buildings: the frigidarium ("cooling room"), where the remains of the Thermes de Cluny are, and the Hôtel de Cluny itself, which houses its impressive collections.