The Fondation Bemberg opened to the
public on the 1st of February 1995 and attracted 100
000 visitors during the first year. This makes it, from
the start, one of the most visited provincial museums
in France. Above all, the Fondation can be described
as the combination of a prestigious collection and a
magnificent building; perhaps one of the keys to its
particularly rapid success.
The hôtel d'Assézat has
belonged to the town of Toulouse for nearly 100 years,
and under the terms of the bequest it houses the "Académies
et sociétés savantes", a group of
six historic cultural and scientific organisations -
one founded as early as 1323.
It was built in the second half of
the XVIth century for Pierre Assézat, a prosperous
merchant in the pastel trade that flourished at the
time. Pierre Assézat came to Toulouse from the
town of Espalion in the early XVIth century to join
older brothers already involved in the business, and
became the heir and successor to the business in 1545.
He was married to the daughter of Toulouse's "Capitoul"
or town magistrate, who was also officer general to
the dowager Queen Eleanor of Austria. Pierre Assézat
himself became Capitoul of the town in 1552. From 1551
he began to acquire land suitable for the construction
of a great house, and on the 25th March 1555 he agreed
a working contract with a master mason, Jean Castagne,
and the architect-sculptor Nicolas Bachelier to build
a house formed by two perpendicular wings linked by
the staircase. When Nicolas Bachelier died in 1557,
his son Dominique directed the construction of the entrance
porch, the open gallery onto the courtyard, and the
splendid "coursiere" - an upper gallery that
crowns the blind party wall.
In 1761 Pierre Assézat's descendants
sold the hotel to Baron de Puymaurin, who modernised
both the facade and the interior accomodation.
The overall building construction is Renaissance; the
design of the façades, the adherence to Doric,
Ionic and Corinthian disciplines, and the use of stone
to emphasise particular architectural features. However,
today the hôtel d'Assézat reflects two
distinct sets of major works:
· in the XVIIIth century
the mullioned windows on the first floor were replaced
by large windows to allow light into the newly created
· in the XIXth century
the hôtel d'Assézat was converted for use
as a warehouse and offices, and bought by the Ozenne
bank, which bequeathed it in 1895 to the town of Toulouse.
Our rooms are also available for business meetings,
dinners, conferences… only for professionals