Museums in Paris

Few cities can match the variety and sheer amount of museums that Paris has to offer. From small quirky museums to the huge and world-famous Louvre Museum, there’s plenty to choose from.

Below a sample of some of the most famous and/or interesting museums in Paris, listed alphabetically.

Listed alphabetically

The Cité de l’Architecture is an architecture museum housed in the east wing of the Chaillot Palace. The museum gives an overview of French architecture through history. The museum shows plaster casts of historic monuments, reproductions of historic wall paintings and also has a gallery dedicated to modern architecture showing models and multimedia displays.

The north end of the Parc de la Villette is dominated by the huge Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (City of Science and Industry), a former slaughterhouse that was transformed into a modern science museum. The permanent collection, known as Explora, is divided into themes such as light, sound, energy, innovation and evolution.

Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume

The Jeu de Paume was built in 1851 at the Tuileries garden, near the Place de la Concorde, as an indoor court for a ballgame known as ‘jeu de paume’, and known by some as ‘real tennis’. For some time the building housed a collection of impressionist works, but today it is home to a gallery with exhibits of contemporary art, in particular photography and video art.

Musée Bourdelle

The Musée Bourdelle is a museum dedicated to the works of Antoine Bourdelle, a French sculptor and student of Auguste Rodin. The museum is located at the site of the former workshop of Bourdelle, where he worked and lived from 1884 until his death in 1929. There are hundreds of sculptures displayed in the museum and adjoining garden.

This museum, which occupies some 140 rooms in two historic mansions, tells the history of Paris from its humble beginnings to the 20th century. Paintings, sculptures, costumes and other objects reflect certain historic periods. There are also many recreated rooms that show the wealth of the French aristocracy.

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

This Museum of Modern Art is housed in the east wing of the Palais de Tokyo, a monumental structure that was built for the World Exhibition of 1937. The museum owns a significant collection of modern art that is displayed in chronological order, and includes works from famous artists such as Picasso, Modigliani and Chagall.

The Musée d’Orsay is one of the most popular museums in Paris. Its collection bridges the gap between those of the Louvre Museum and the Centre Pompidou and spans a period from 1848 until 1914. It is best known for its impressionist and post-impressionist works but there’s also a collection of beautiful sculptures. The museum building, a magnificent former railway station from 1900, is worth a visit on its own.

The National Museum of the Middle Ages, better known as the Cluny Museum, sits at the site of Gallo-Roman baths from the 3rd century. The museum is housed in a 14th century mansion, the hôtel de Cluny, and has a magnificent collection of medieval works of art including tapestries, sculptures, stained-glass windows and furniture.

The Musée de l’Armée is a large military museum housed in the Hôtel des Invalides, originally built in the 17th century on the orders of the Sun King Louis XIV, as accommodation for disabled and impoverished war veterans. The museum covers war from the Stone Age up to the end of the Second World War.

Musée de l’Orangerie

The Orangerie was built in 1852 to protect the orange trees of the Tuileries Garden during wintertime. Today, it houses the Musée de l’Orangerie, which is best known for its collection of large paintings of water lilies by Monet. The museum also has works from other famous artists including Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse.

The Maritime Museum of Paris is housed in the west wing of the Chaillot Palace. The museum highlights the rich naval history of France with a display of model ships, sculptures, paintings and maritime-related objects. One of the museum’s highlights is the Imperial Barge, built in 1811 for Emperor Napoleon.

Musée de Montmartre

The Musée de Montmartre narrates the history of the popular Montmartre district with a number of displays that show historic paintings, documents and posters. The rooms recreate the atmosphere of Montmartre’s heyday, when illustrious painters such as Renoir, van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec lived here.

The Museum of Decorative Arts is located in the Marsan wing of the Louvre Palace. It has a varied collection of some 150,000 works of decorative art including furniture, paintings, tapestry, sculpture, stained glass windows and many objets d’art. The collection covers the period from the Middle Ages to the present day.

The Musée des Arts et Métiers is a museum that shows technological progress throughout the centuries. The museum is housed in the former priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs. Its collection includes the original Pendulum of Foucault and Avion III, a steam-powered airplane from the 19th century.

The Museum of Fine Arts of the City of Paris is housed in the Petit Palais, an intricately decorated building that was erected for the Universal Exposition of 1900. The museum has a varied collection of art with an emphasis on French art, in particular paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Musée des Plans-Reliefs

The Musée des Plans-Reliefs displays a number of large models of fortresses and fortified cities. They were created in the late 17th to early 19th century for military purposes. The models are on display in the Hôtel des Invalides. The museum owns about 100 models, but only 28 of those are on display, including models of the Mont-Saint-Michel, the port of Bayonne and the city of Perpignan.

The Louvre is undoubtedly the world’s most famous museum with a dazzling array of famous works such as the Winged Victory, the Seated Scribe, the Lacemaker, the Code of Hammurabi, the Venus of Milo and of course the Mona Lisa. The Louvre Palace is a major attraction on its own, as is the museum’s entrance, the Louvre Pyramid.

The Musée du Quai Branly is a museum that highlights the indigenous cultures of Oceania, Asia, Africa and America with a display of statues, costumes, masks, jewelry, totem poles and other objects. The conspicious modern museum building, wich rests on poles, was designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel.

Musée Galliera

The Musée Galliera is the fashion museum of the city of Paris. The museum has a large collection of costumes, undergarments and accessories. It is housed in the Palais Galliera, a gorgeous Italianesque building just north of the Palais de Tokyo in the 16th arrondissement. The palace was built in 1885 for the duchess of Galliera to display her art collection.

Musée Grévin

The Musée Grévin is a wax museum located at the Boulevard Montmartre, right near the entrance of the Passage Jouffroy. The museum was founded in 1882 and shows wax figures of historical French figures as well as famous personalities in France and abroad including politicians, sportsmen, musicians and film stars.

Musée Guimet

The National Museum of Asian Art-Guimet or Guimet Museum in short displays a remarkable collection of Asian art in its main building at the Place d’Iéna. The museum is named after Émile Guimet, a rich industrial whose collection forms the nucleus of the museum. A highlight is the fabulous collection of Khmer sculptures.

Musée Jacquemart-André

The art collection of Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart is displayed in a gorgeous mansion at the Boulevard Haussmann, in the 8th arrondissement. Even if you’re not into art, the museum is well worth a visit, thanks to the magnificent interior of the couple’s former residence.

Musée Marmottan

The Musée Marmottan, situated near the 16th arrondissement near the Bois de Boulogne, is famous for its excellent collection of impressionist paintings by Monet. But there are also works from other artists including Morrisot, Manet and Renoir. The collection is displayed in the former hunting lodge of the third Duke of Valmy. Paul Marmottan later transformed the hunting lodge into an attractive mansion.

The Musée National d’Art Moderne, one of the largest museums of modern art in the world, is housed in the futuristic looking Centre Pompidou. The museum has a collection of artwork from the early 20th century to today with representative works from modern art movements such as Fauvism, Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism.

Musée National de Céramique

At the site of a former ceramics factory in Sèvres, a suburb of Paris, is now one of the world’s largest museums of ceramics with a collection of more than 50,000 pieces. The museum displays more than just works from Sèvres; you can admire porcelain objects from many areas, including Italy, the Netherlands, England and China.

Musée Picasso

The Hôtel Salé, a beautiful 17th-century mansion located in the Marais district in Paris’s third arrondissement, is home to the Picasso Museum, which boasts the largest collection of Picasso artwork in the world. The collection gives a good idea of the evolution of Pablo Picasso’s works over the years from 1905 until his death in 1973.

All of Auguste Rodin’s famous sculptures, such as the Thinker, the Kiss, the Burghers of Calais and the Gates of Hell, are on display in the Rodin Museum, which is housed in the hôtel Biron, a magnificent mansion with a large garden where Rodin lived and worked.

The Natural History Museum of France is located in the Jardin des Plantes, a garden that was created in 1626. The core of the museum consists of the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution, which explains the evolution of life, the diversity of the world as well as the extinction of species. The museum also displays a collection of fossils and minerals.

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