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Legal status


Saint Siffrein vers 1460

Legal status

The Calvet Foundation (Fondation Calvet), formerly called "Bibliothèque Calvet", then "Museum Calvet", later "Musée Calvet", and today once again "Fondation Calvet", is an independent institution which dates back two centuries. Established as a foundation by Napoléon I in 1811 and regulated by the Council of State in 1823, 1832 and 1833, it was born of the conviction of a man of letters named Esprit Calvet, an important collector who in 1810 bequeathed the totality of his estate to the institution that would later carry his name.

The Calvet Foundation owns the artwork composing the collections of seven museums in the towns of Avignon and Calvet, two libraries, a significant numismatic collection, and manages a vast artistic heritage covering all fields of artwork from prehistory to modern art.

It is one of the first entities to have given rise to the concept of the museum. Founded in the 19th century, it is organised in the way of a Trust according to modern anglo-saxon law.

Like all foundations it owns assets, essentially composed of tenement buildings, the income from which is exclusively allocated to the acquisition and restoration of collections and works of art.

It is managed according to the founder's will and testament, by a board of eight "men of letters", five of whom are appointed for 10 years by the city council and the remaining three are co-opted executors of the will, with, as subsequently agreed by the eight members, the Mayor of Avignon acting as president.

In return for the designation of five men of letters, and as a condition for acquiring his legacy, Esprit Calvet stated that the city council must fulfil the obligation of accommodating the collections and paying for the required staff (curators and attendants).

It was his wish that his institution may perpetuate and that his legacy be constantly enriched with gifts and purchases of new works of art.

Progressively, and largely due to the good relations between the city of Avignon and the appropriate legal constitution that the founder, as he highlighted in his will, had elaborated independently "with no help from men of law", the works of art were presented in places worthy of their quality.

In 1823 the Council of State transcribed his intentions with perfect loyalty in a regulation which was approved by the Home Secretary of Louis XVIII, and according to which the Courts and the State Council have constantly and rigorously sanctioned any violations.

The Foundation holds the status of an independent legal body. It is a practical synthesis of old and modern institutions and of public and private law, free from any theoretical ideas or political intentions, and in perfect adequacy with the original objective, which was to invite owners of private treasures to offer them to the public with a feeling of making a valuable gesture, and at the same time enabling them and their descendants to retain a feeling of ownership.


Consulter les textes fondateurs