Presented for the first time in Lyon,

this exhibition is dedicated to the pioneers of the cinema from Lyon, to their leading inventions in the field of images and to the epic of cinematography.

Lumière! The invention of the cinema

In 1895, Louis and Auguste Lumière invented the Cinematograph. They shot some of the earliest films in the history of the cinema and made possible this novel, collective experience: watching a film on a large screen to share laughter and tears and discover the unknown… Complete with production, subjects, genres, travelling and remakes, they also invented the art of filming.

brochure publicitaire de présentation de quatre appareils lumière

While the invention of the Cinematograph contributed a lot to  the reputation of the Lumière family, they must be seen mainly as industrialists.

An industrial

vue aérienne de l'usine lumière

In 1913, their factory in Lyon-Monplaisir covered 4 hectares and employed 800 workers who produced glass plates, light-sensitive paper and photochemical products. Cameras, accessories and photographic film were later added to their production lines.


planche présentant une suite de photos d'un combat

The cinema was at the crossroads of a series of discoveries in disciplines as diverse as optics, the perception of movement, mechanics and chemistry. During the 19th century, everything speeded up and each successive invention enriched a common pool of knowledge The Cinematograph was thus a culmination, at the confluence of all the preceding developments.

the film show

Prototype n° 1 of the Cinematograph, dating back to 1894, is evidence of Louis Lumière’s early work on animated images and his experiments with strips of light-sensitive paper. The format was already 35 mm and the film was cranked through by an intermittent mechanism.

The mass-produced Lumière Cinematograph was a real independent machine for images, combining in one device weighing less than 5 kg, the functions of camera, developer and projector.

A family

A photographer of modest origins, Antoine became an industrialist in photography. He sensed that their invention of dry plates would put photography within everyone’s reach. It was at this time that his two sons got involved, bound by the oath they had sworn as teenagers to always work together. The complementary interaction of these three strong personalities led the family towards success.

Auguste et Lumière concentrés, travaillant ensemble dans leur laboratoire


“Offer the world to the world”
(Bertrand Tavernier on his operators)

frere lumiere en voyage

In 1895, the rave review of the demonstrations of the Cinematograph projections resulted in many proposals to buy it. However, the Lumière brothers preferred to maintain control of it and set up a controlled distribution system. The Lumière Cinematograph was introduced simultaneously in France and overseas and its exploitation was conveniently combined with production. The images shot around the world gave spectators a feeling of dramatic proximity and a shrinking world.

First session at
the Salon Indien

In 1895, Antoine Lumière took charge of the commercial exploitation of the Cinematograph. In Paris, he rented a billiard room, the Salon Indien, in the basement of the Grand Café. The afternoon session was reserved for guests, who were captivated. Some offered high prices to buy the camera. The evening session, which was public and paid, was not very successful, but the news spread quickly by word of mouth and more sessions had to be held to respond to demand.

reconstitution du salon indien
Projecteur de 75mm conçu pour l'exposition universelle de Paris en 1900


For the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, Louis Lumière offered Cinematograph projections on a monumental screen. To do so, he designed a novel device in large format, using 75 mm film. A dozen films were made, but the projector was not finished in time and could not be used. It was thus with the 35 mm Cinematograph that the projections on the giant screen were made.

Life in colour,
the Autochromes

In 1903, the patent was filed for a system designed to “produce colour photographs”, but its marketing, under the trade name of Autochrome plates, did not begin until four years later.

Louis Lumière spoke of “seven years of uninterrupted efforts” to develop and then put into industrial production this process that he considered to be his masterpiece.

photo couleurs avec le procédé d'autochrome Avec autochrome
photo noire et blanche Sans autochrome

1,422 Films

aperçu des 1422 films réalisés à l'époque des frères Lumière

Discover simultaneously all the films made by the Lumière brothers. Projected in their entirety, these world-renowned masterpieces, or little-known “nuggets” are the unique testimony of an era.

on the Lumières

Screening of two documentaries: Le Temps des Lumière by Michel Viotte which retraces the careers of the Lumière brothers and Louis Lumière by Eric Rohmer, in which Henri Langlois, founder-director of the Cinémathèque Française, and the film producer Jean Renoir discuss the early days of cinema.

Side by side

Presented at the 2012 Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival, this documentary film deals with the transition from film to digital from the viewpoint of major film directors and cinematographers in film history. Keanu Reeves, also a film producer, interviews Martin Scorsese, James Cameron and David Lynch, among others.

the world in 360°

In 1900, Louis Lumière filed the patent for the Photorama, the first panoramic photographic process that permitted the projection in a rotunda of a single picture presenting a 360-degree panoramic view. From February 1902 to the spring of 1903, over 600 panoramic photographs were taken and projected in Paris, in a room measuring 20 meters in diameter.


Between 1894 and 1914, the wonderful story of the beginnings of the cinema was written. A history of pioneers, artists, industrialists and adventurers, including Louis and Auguste Lumière, Georges Méliès, Charles Pathé and Léon Gaumont who shared the prestige. France dominated the international film industry up to the First World War.

George Méliès

George Melies

Léon Gaumont

Leon Gaumont

Charles Pathé

Charles Pathe

The cinema
in 3D

3D cinema is not a contemporary phenomenon because in 1935, Louis Lumière had already presented a process for 3D films. It was a 3D remake of one of the early Lumière films, Arrivée du train en gare de La Ciotat [Arrival of the train at “La Ciotat” station], that is viewed through anaglyph glasses with blue/yellow lenses. Commercial exploitation began but the experiment turned out to have no immediate future. Louis Lumière declared that, “as long as 3D requires glasses, it will not expand”.

Test this out in theexhibition with a 3D film that can be watched without glasses, owing to autostereoscopic screens!
bobines de films
camera paillard

From silver emulsion
to digital

Since its creation, film has undergone many technical developments. The transition from silver emulsion to digital has considerably modified production as well as projection and the modes of consumption of images. This transformation has affected the cinema in its essence and raises the question of the future of the collective cinema experience faced with the individual experience on smartphone.

city of Lights… and of the Lumière family!

As the city of the invention of the Cinematograph, Lyon naturally became the subject of the first films. From March to June in 1895, all the films shot by the Lumière family were set exclusively in Lyon. In the end, 200 pictures were taken, including thirty showing the city and its architecture in detail.

Péniche traversant la Saône en 1935
Un pont de lyon en 1936