Today marks 219 years since the birth of national hero Victor Hugo!
At the Pantheon, opposite the Hotel les Dames du Panthéon and Hotel des Grands Hommes, an exhibition about his life is ready to open as soon as the monument does – Victor Hugo, La liberté au Panthéon (Victor Hugo, Freedom at the Pantheon).
The state funeral proceedings following Victor Hugo’s death on 22nd May 1885 were extremely important to the French. The man’s popularity was such that the procession with his coffin from the Arc de Triomphe to the Pantheon took several hours because of the large crowds.
The exhibition dissects the key moments of the funeral and talks about how the notion of Freedom (Liberté) inspired Hugo, diffusing into his writings.
You’ll be able to see archive documents, posters, newspapers, photos, paintings, sculptures, drawings, souvenirs and even some never-before-seen documents.
The exhibition also talks about Hugo’s fight agains censorship, the death penalty and poverty, as well as his battles to guarantee the freedom of the press and rights for women and children.
You’ll also learn more about some of the less obvious sides of the man, such as his love of drawing and even his interior design skills, as shown by Hauteville House, his house in Guernsey.
And while we wait for the exhibition to reopen, you can learn more about Victor Hugo with a rather good interactive presentation devised by Google Arts & Culture, where you’ll see number of famous sites that were important in his life – Mont-Saint-Michel, La Conciergerie and – of course – Notre-Dame.