Paris: Museums and Galleries
- Centre Georges Pompidou
- Maison Européenne de la Photographie
- Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
- Musée d’Orsay
- Musée du Cinema
- Musée du Louvre
- Musée de l’Orangerie (re-opened May 2006!)
- Musée Jacquemart-André
Centre Georges Pompidou
pl Georges Pompidou, Paris, France 75191
The Centre Pompidou features Parisian art from the 18th century to the present. Includes works by Matisse, Chagall, and Picasso. Housed in the centre of Paris in a building designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, its supporting structure and movement and flow systems, such as the escalators, were relegated to the outside of the building. Colour-coded ducts are attached to the building’s west façade, as a kind of wrapping for the structure: blue for air, green for fluids, yellow for electricity cables and red for movement and flow. Other institutions in the same complex are the National Museum of Modern Art, the Centre of Industrial Design, the Contemporary Music Institute, the Brancusi Studio.
Tip: You have to check out the penthouse restaurant, even if you don’t eat there. Stunning views over Paris and decoration that’s like a ’70s idea of The Future of Interior Design.
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
5-7, rue de Fourcy, Paris, France 75004
A collection of contemporary international photographs from the late 1950s to the present day. Most of the big names are here. All forms of photography, from reportage to fashion are included. Exhibitions change regularly. Located in a restored 1706 mansion, the permanent collection now features over 15,000 works, and there’s a cafe in the basement.
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
11, av du Président Wilson, Paris, France 75016
The Musee d’Arte Moderne is housed in the Palais de Tokyo, a building specially commissioned for the the 1937 World Exhibition, along with one of the major exhibits, ‘La Fée Electricite’ ("Fairy of Electricity"), a huge painting by Raoul Dufy for the Light Pavilion.
Most of the major artistic styles of the twentieth are featured here, including works by Braque, Picasso, Delaunay, Leger, Roualt, Utrillo and one room entirely devoted to works by Matisse. Also art deco furniture and objets d’art, photography, textiles.
1, rue de Bellechasse, Paris, France 75007
Originally the Gare d’Orsay, a huge (for the time) iron-and-glass railway station built in 1900, it was finally converted to an arts complex in 1986. Many visitors consider it to be the most viewer-friendly museum in the world. The museum’s stated aim is "to show, in all its diversity, the artistic creation of the western world from 1848 to 1914". Besides painting, sculpture, graphic and decorative arts, the museum has also established collections of furniture, architecture and photography.
- Prefer a small group guided tour of the Musée d’Orsay? Book online here
- Or how about a Montmartre Impressionist Art Walking Tour Including Skip-the-Line Musee d’Orsay Ticket – after a 1.5-hour walking tour of the bohemian Montmartre to see the landmarks that inspired legendary artists like Van Gogh and Monet, head to Musée d’Orsay to view Paris’ largest collection of modern art at leisure. Details and book online here
A treasure trove of early cinematography technology (dating back to 1895) can be found here, next to the Cinémathèque française, both founded by Henri Langlois in the 1930s. Sixty galleries chronicle the beginnings of photography and include short films. Additional displays include dresses from "Gone with the Wind", John Wayne’s hat from "Stagecoach", costumes worn by Greta Garbo and Rudolph Valentino ("The Sheik") and many more props from famous films, including the original robot from Fritz Lang’s "Metropolis."
The conducted tour takes about an hour and fifteen minutes.
Musée du Louvre
34-36, quai du Louvre, Palais du Louvre, Paris, France 75001
"Open to all since 1793" and even more popular, if that were possible, since its lurid appearance in "The Da Vinci Code" (see how many people use the upstairs lavatory off the Grand Gallery!).
One of the world’s largest assemblies of art and antiques (including of course, the "Mona Lisa"), the cut-off point for the Louvre’s collection is 1848. The Palais du Louvre is now known primarily as a museum, but for almost seven hundred years the buildings were one of the principal residences of the kings and emperors of France. The adjacent "Jardin des Tuileries" is the largest and oldest public park in Paris and contains a sculpture collection.
Tips: (1)The entrance fee is lowered after 3pm; (2) You can skip the queues with the Museum Pass; (3) Opposite on the Rue de Rivoli, there’s a building called "Le Louvre des Antiquaires" with three floors and over 250 small antique shops (website)
The museum was reopened to the public in May 2006 after being closed for renovation work since January 2000, and has been completely reviewed and restructured.
Six great intellectuals recently described the museum chosen and arranged by Claude Monet to showcase his “testamentary” masterpieces as “unique in its genre”.
Next to the Nymphéas, “the haven of peaceful meditation”, a gift to modern man with his “overworked nerves”, the Orangerie offers a fabulous concentration of masterpieces from the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume Collection, a highly original insight into modern art featuring Cézanne, Renoir, Picasso, Rousseau, Matisse, Derain, Modigliani, Soutine, Utrillo and Laurencin.
158, bd Haussmann, Paris, France 75008 (400 metres from the Arc de Triomphe)
Owned by the Institut de France and housed in an incredible Second Empire mansion (there’s a Tiepolo ceiling in the dining room!), this museum has a broad collection of French paintings (Nattier, Vigée-Lebrun, Fragonard, David), Dutch paintings (Rembrandt, van Dyck, Van Ruysdael), Italian Renaissance paintings (Ucello, Mantegna, Botticelli, Bellini, Capaccio) and furniture dating from the Louis XV and Louis XVI periods. Also many objets d’art from Europe and Asia.
Tip: It’s worth getting the English-language audio guide which doesn’t just give the usual historic and technical details of the artworks on display but also tells you about the history of the collection.
Next Page: Major Paris museums and galleries (2)What about you? What do you think?