Last Updated on September 6, 2023 by April Verge
Paris boasts of having more than 150 museums. The City of Lights, as some people call it, is a true thrill for culture lovers. The French capital is well renowned for its cultural contributions to the world. It hosts world-class artifacts and priceless artifacts that art lovers drool for. Musee du Louvre is one of the best museums in Paris, hosting world-class artifacts worldwide. If you’re traveling to Paris, your trip isn’t complete if you don’t visit some of these best museums in Paris. Be sure to carry your camera and document the memories you make at these 10 Paris museums you don’t want to miss!
You might as also be interested in: 10 Unusual Museums In Paris
1. Musée d’Orsay
If you’re the kind that enjoys Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, the Musée d’Orsay is ready to wow you. The museum is a former railway station. Constructed for the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900, the museum is a work of artistic and architectural beauty. It’s one of the best museums in Paris, hosting a fantastic art collection from 1848 to 1914. Its Impressionist pieces help it stand out and include works by Van Gogh, Camille Claudel, Manet, and many others. The museum also has artistic mediums on display, including photography, paintings, sculptures, graphic arts, decorative arts, and breathtaking architecture. If you’re visiting Paris on a budget, visit on the first Sunday of the month and enjoy free entrance at the museum. Tip: The museum’s best and most spectacular art pieces are on the top floor. Head over there and work your way down for an enhanced experience.
As the culture capital, Paris boasts of having more than 150 museums to visit. Here are 10 Paris museums you don’t want to miss!
2. Centre Pompidou
This is much more than a museum. It doubles as a multi-disciplinary cultural center. It has a major public reading library, a cinema, concerts, shows, exhibits, children’s activities, and an extensive permanent art collection. The architecture of the building itself is intriguing. The outside facade is an evolving spatial diagram emulating an oil refinery. Its permanent art collection is one of the largest in modern and contemporary art in Europe. It’s one of the best museums in Paris and has an offer every first Sunday of the month where admission is free. The museum will give you a spectacular nighttime view of the French capital on the 6th floor.
3. Petit Palais
Created for the 1900 Universal Exhibition, Petit Palais was converted into a museum two years later. The museum is designed in opulent Belle Epoque style. It boasts an extensive fine arts collection covering manuscripts, medieval artifacts, classical antiquities, renaissance paintings, etc. It also houses a beautiful collection of Impressionist paintings by Monet, Renoir, Bonnard, Morisot, Cezanne, Pissarro, Vuillard, and Sisley. The building has four wings and at the center is a courtyard garden where you can get snacks, refreshments, and a simple lunch menu by Café-Restaurant Le Jardin du Petit Palais.
4. Musée Rodin
This is a Neoclassical-style mansion listed as a Historical Monument in France. Named after French sculptor Auguste Rodin, the museum started as a resident mansion for Rodin. He used part of the rented mansion as an art studio and later occupied the entire building. The sculptor left an assortment of his artwork alongside his personal art collection that he gave to the French government. It might not be like the Louvre, but it invites visitors to enjoy hundreds of artworks by Rodin, including his famed sculptures, drawings, and paintings.
5. Musée Carnavalet
Resting in a quiet corner of Le Marais, the Musee Carnavalet is another of the best museums in Paris. It has an extensive art collection housed in two adjacent mansions—the 16th-century Hotel Carnavalet, Hotel des Ligneris, and the 17th-century Hotel Pelletier. The museum was beautifully refurbished in a renovation project over several years. Musée Carnavalet beautifully illustrates the history of Paris through an extensive collection of historical paintings, antiquities, drawings, and art objects. It also houses an assortment of paintings along with renowned Parisian’s profiles highlighting the capital’s most influential citizens. Extensive collections cover important events such as the French Revolution and the Wars of Religions in the museum.
6. Musée de l’Orangerie
The Musée de l’Orangerie is one of the best museums in Paris you can visit to enjoy Impressionist art. Though smaller and less renowned, the museum focuses on Impressionism and 19th to 20th-century art. Thanks to its size and less well-known, the museum is less crowded. This gives you all the time and a chance to enjoy seeing unique Impressionist paintings. In this intimate space, you get to enjoy Monet’s series of Nympheas displayed in two rooms called the “Sistine Channel of Impressionism” by Andre Masson. The paintings appear like scribbles of brush strokes up-close, but several feet away, the collection creates a remarkably realistic impression of water lilies floating in a gorgeous pond.
7. Musée National Picasso
Musée National Picasso is one of Paris’ most prestigious and precious institutions. It’s set in the great 17th-century Hotel Sale and houses the world’s most extensive collection of Picasso’s masterpieces. The mansion has 3700 square meters of an exhibition displaying a wide range of Picasso’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures that showcase Picasso’s entire career. The museum contains an astounding 5000 items collection. Some of the most iconic works in the collection include Picasso’s Self-Portrait and La Celestine from the Blue period. The museum also has a gift shop open from Tuesday to Friday and a café.
8. Musée d’Art Moderne
This museum exists purely to show that art doesn’t cease to be amazing. Like technology, art evolved, and modern art is as intriguing as the 16ht and 27th-century art. The museum opened in 1961 might not be so trendy, but it primarily houses art from the 20th and 21st centuries and boasts of a collection of more than 13,000 works.
The collection features works of famous modern artists including Dufy, Chagall, Braque, Matisse, Picasso, Leger, and Vuillard. The collection covers major trends in contemporary art, with a wide range of artists represented.
9. Musée National des Arts et Metiers
If you’re a scientific enthusiast visiting Paris, the Musée National des Arts et Metiers has everything you fancy. It’s a museum of technological innovation and scientific instruments. The collection showcases more than 2400 inventions revealing remarkable technological innovations globally. The original version of Foucault’s Pendulum is housed in the museum. The metal pendulum swings in a full rotation of 360 degrees every 24 hours. Jean Foucault demonstrated this in 1851, proving the rotation of the earth.
10. Fondation Louis Vuitton
Fondation Louis Vuitton is a newbie compared to all the above museums in Paris. Though it’s a late entry, anyone visiting Paris shouldn’t miss it the same way you shouldn’t miss the classy Louvre. The building designed by American star architect Frank Gehry brings out exquisite architecture. The museum arrived with a bang, housing elaborate art installations, and modern art. Here, you’ll find works of art by Ellsworth Kelly, Jean-Michael Basquiat, Gilbert & George, Olafur Eliasson, and many others. Thanks to its elaborate and innovative architecture, the building is home to many Parisian events, including the exquisite Louis Vuitton fashion show.
These are my 10 Paris museums you don’t want to miss. However, this is simply the tip of the iceberg. The guarantee in Paris is that you’ll find a museum that addresses your niche in art and culture.