As a historical figure, Bonaparte’s impact on European history almost lives up to his legend, as reflected in the depth of historical literature on his life and times reflects that. Still, there is a need for an explicitly interdisciplinary consideration of what Bonaparte’s impact on the French art institutions of the First Empire was in contemporary political terms. I contend that the practice of systematic cultural appropriation, both immediately preceding and during Bonaparte’s imperial ascension, was unique in its scope, political motivations and calculated execution prior to the Second World War. Arts acquisitions were not merely spoils of war for Bonaparte’s regime, they represented an unprecedented program to acclimate the great works of other cultures into the French oeuvre, effectively rewriting the history of Western humanities to fit their own image. My University Scholars Program project will rely on interdisciplinary methods, focusing on a critical, explicitly political lens, to argue that the underlying politics behind artistic production, theft and display in Napoleonic France would profoundly influence Western museum culture, resonating to this very day.