Paris is a world capital of culture and history so it’s normal to find a wealth of museums there. But if you think Paris museum, you’ll immediately think Louvre. True. What an amazing place: unmissable. But for once, let’s spread the word about everything else. If you have time for a second museum, you’re facing a very tough choice.
We have shortlisted here 20 other Paris museums that we believe are worth checking out (there are actually more than 100 museums in Paris). Many Paris museums are named after their founder or after the street where they are located, so you can’t just guess from the name…
Note: the Paris Sightseeing Pass grants free access to many Paris museums, and it grants “skip the line” privilege.
ART AND HISTORY MUSEUMS
Orangerie museum – Located in the Louvre gardens, this Paris museum exposes masterpieces from Renoir, Cezanne, Picasso, Monet and Matisse. A modern display area was opened in 2006 to illuminate the paintings with natural light (yet indoor).
Musée d’Orsay – Mostly focused on 19th century, this Paris museum hosts impressionist painting and photography. The building itself (a former train station) is an immense glass hall worth the visit.
Centre Pompidou – probably the 2nd most recognizable building in Paris after the Eiffel tower, this museum of modern and contemporary arts is an artwork in itself. Boasts the largest modern art collection in Europe, with (as we write) 62229 works from Kandinsky, Giacometti, Man Ray, Chagall, Matisse, Picasso and 5528 other artists.
Picasso museum – Dedicated to the Spanish master, this Paris museum displays a large collection of paintings, sculptures and other forms of creativity from all periods of Picasso’s life.
Musée Rodin- This Paris museum is entirely focused on the life and work of Auguste Rodin, a French sculptor mostly known abroad for “The Thinker” and “The Kiss” statues. The museum has one of the most romantic gardens where the sculptures are displayed.
Palais de Tokyo- Nothing to do with Japan a part the name, this is a creative art lab for contemporary artists finding new ways of expression while mixing gendres and techniques. Always different artists on display, as well as special events and an uber-cool bar and restaurant.
Carnavalet museum – This Paris museum displays furniture from the Renaissance and other key periods of Paris’s history. Not to miss: the keys of the Bastille fortress symbol of the French Revolution of 1789.
Cité de la Musique – Extensive display of anything that has ever been built to produce music and sound, this is an interactive exhibition often enriched by concerts, musical shows for children and live workshops.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY MUSEUMS
Arts et Métiers museum- Literally, “the museum of arts and works” is an amazing collection of scientific and industrial discoveries. From early airplanes and cars, to the very own tools used by the first chemist (Lavoisier and all), to the first personal computer and memories, the first Baudot telegraph, Bell’s telephone, watches, photography, raw materials… all hosted in a magnificent monastery from the 11th century. This Paris museum is dubbed “the Louvre of science”.
Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle – This place is so well known in Paris that it’s just nicknamed “The Museum”. Its roots date back to 350 years ago when monks started collecting and studying plants and animals of all species. Today, thousands of stuffed specimen are assembled in a majestic display telling the story of animal evolution. Unknown to most tourists, the world’s oldest animal park – or zoo – is still in operation here, ask for the “Ménagerie”.
Palais de la Decouverte – More than a museum this is an interactive exhibition center focused on scientific education. New themes and topics are continuously addressed through conferences and real scientific experiences being run on site.
WORLD CULTURE MUSEUMS
Musée du Quai Branly – The name doesn’t mean anything else than its address, but this is the latest addition to the “big” Paris museums. Opened in 2006, it is dedicated to ancestral arts from Oceania, Africa, Asia and Americas. Next door to the Eiffel Tower.
Institut du Monde Arabe -Also known as “IMA”, this organization is dedicated to Arabian cultures and has been setup in cooperation between France and 22 Arabian countries. Around a museum spanning history from pre-islamic to arabian-muslim civilizations, there are temporary exhibition, movies, language centers, and an immense library.
Musée Guimet – The museum of Asian arts, displays artworks from south-east Asia, China, Korea, Japan and India.
SPECIAL INTEREST MUSEUMS
Opera Museum- Not well known, located within the Opera Garnier, this Paris museum displays sceneries, costumes, booklets and jewelry used in opera performances, same dating back to 300 years ago.
Cinematheque- This movie library is home to 40000 movies and a nice collections of memorabilia costumes and sceneries. But the highlight is the building itself – a Gehry new-classical-cubist building reworked to fit 4 movie theaters.
Immigration museum – Quite an unusual idea, this museum is a place made to remember the life of immigrants across centuries. It is a showcase of hope, dream, courage, creativity and sorrow.
Galerie des Gobelins – Formerly the manufacturer of France’s royal tapestries, it has now turned into a museum displaying antique tapestries and furnitures. A must if you’re into tapestries.
Musée du fumeur- The smokers’s museum… a surprising Paris museum where you can find, unsurprisingly, cigarettes, cigars, pipes and other smoking gadgets.
Musée Galliera -The fashion museum, displaying haute couture and accessories from the most famous French fashion designers. The themes and collections change very often to prevent fabrics deterioration.
As mentioned, there are so many other museums in Paris. Which ones do you suggest as worth mentioning in our future post for the next 20 museums?
[This post has been syndicated from the isango! Travel Blog]