This paper considers two French museums that can lay claim to being the first historical museums; and; in a special sense; the first national museums to be created in Europe. The first was set up in the 1790s; during the French Revolution; by Alexandre Lenoir; who was memorably pictured at the time defending the tombs of the French monarchy at the Abbey of St Denis from the assault of iconoclasts. Installed in the former monastery of the Petits-Augustins on the left bank of the Seine in Paris; this remarkable institution survived throughout the Empire; and was only closed after the return of the Bourbon dynasty to France in 1815/16; when many of the monuments that he saved from vandalism returned to their former locations. The second had a very different origin. Alexandre du Sommerard; a wealthy magistrate; began in the 1820s to collect a wide variety of objects of medieval and Renaissance origin; and was pictured as â€˜Lâ€™Antiquaireâ€™ by the artist Charles Renoux in 1825. Having rented the entire first floor of the medieval HÃ´tel de Cluny in the Latin quarter of Paris in the early 1830s; he installed his collection and welcomed visitors there from around 1834. After his death; in 1843; the French state officially purchased the collection and the building for the nation; and inaugurated the MusÃ©e de Cluny; now known as the MusÃ©e National du Moyen Ã‚ge.