Lumière Villa – Lyon, France - Atlas Obscura
Our new kids' book is on sale! Shop now.

Lyon, France

Lumière Villa

Antique cinematography artifacts fill this museum dedicated to the inventors of the moving picture. 

This grand building is a must-see for any film history buff, as it’s packed with fascinating artifacts and antique pieces of technology that trace back to the birth of cinematography.

The Lumière Villa in Lyon houses a museum honoring the achievements of Auguste and Louis Lumiére, dubbed the “fathers of the cinema.” It’s operated by an organization called the Institut Lumière, which was co-founded in 1982 by the grandson of Louis Lumière. 

The museum is located within the magnificent former home of the Lumière family, in the Monplaisir area of the city. Within the grounds of the villa is a building called the Hangar, which was part of the original photographic plate factory of the Lumière brothers’ father, Antoine. The Hangar is the original setting for the film La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon, which was filmed in 1895 by Louis Lumière and is inaccurately said to be the world’s first motion picture.

While the house itself is well worth a visit in its own right, the museum of course gives great prominence to the cinematograph, the Lumière brothers’ most important invention. A particular highlight is the “N°1” Lumière cinematograph that screened the first 10 films at the Grand Café in Paris in front of 33 audience members at the first fee-paying public screening in 1895.

The museum also screens a variety of short films that tell the story of the early operators of the Lumière cinematograph, and their curiosity, framing skills, and aesthetic tastes. They quickly went on to travel the world and create films. One of the rooms is dedicated to Gabriel Veyre, the most famous of these cinematographic adventurers, who filmed and photographed both in South America and Asia.

Know Before You Go

The best metro station is Montplasir-Lumiere. Just outside the Villa is a fantastic market, don't miss it if it's open.