Covering the period from his youth to his exile, the first part of the exhibition illustrates the breadth and the diversity of his creative activity.
Poet, playwright, novelist, rapidly recognised as the leader of the Romantic generation, Hugo wrote continually.
Frequent travels allowed him to renew his poetic and artistic inspiration.
At the same time, he was deeply involved in political activity and participated in every struggle for the rights of man.
Exile was also a period of spiritualist experiments, of graphic art inventions.
His imagination, liberated by the face to face encounter with the ocean, led him to write the masterpieces of his maturity: from Les Contemplations to La Légende des siècles, from Les Misérables to Les Travailleurs de la mer or L'Homme qui rit.
From the Channel Islands where Hugo was in exile, his voice rose up, taking on a universal dimension as he put his pen in the service of causes he believed in: he opposed capital punishment, denounced the plundering of the summer Palace, supported Poland, Cuba, and pursued his dream of European unity.
Elected Deputy on his return to France, he continued his political commitments.
His literary creation remained as considerable as it was varied, from Quatre-vingt-treize to L'Art d'être grand-père, whereas his graphic artwork acquired a new momentum, carrying him to the limits of abstraction.
Manuscripts, letters, drawings, caricatures, notebooks, albums… some 350 works, coming from his writer’s, artist’s and even photographer’s studios, give us an insight into this highly diversified body of creative work.
Unpublished works, some of which are recent acquisitions, complete the set of manuscripts and drawings bequeathed by Victor Hugo himself to the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

A catalogue, an exposition in poster form intended for schools, pedagogical workshops and, of course, a Web site, will extend this event.

Victor Hugo, the Ocean-Man
"There are indeed ocean-men." This epithet, used by Hugo in speaking of Shakespeare, could well be applied to Victor Hugo himself and to his work.
Involved in a variety of fields, form literature to politics, from photography to drawing, from collages to architecture, he deployed his talent and his imagination, from the immense to the minute, from the particular to the universal.
Far from destroying him, exile gave him a role suitable to his stature. Taking on the role of historian or polemicist, he rose up against the imperial power.
The exposition, "Victor Hugo, Ocean-Man", proposes a three-step circuit which allows everyone to discover the multiple facets of this remarkable man.