d'Orsay museum view
Museums,  Travelling tips

Paris – 10 The Best Art Museums

Within the city limits of Paris, there are around 130 museums. In order to make your journey “magical,” we have compiled a short list of the best museums devoted to art and culture in the French capital.

Click and go:
1. Musée d’Orsay
2. Musée du Louvre
3. Centre Georges Pompidou Musée National d’Art Moderne
4. Musée Marmottan Monet
5. Grand Palais & Petit Palais
6. Musée National de l’Orangerie des Tuileries
7. Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac
8. Musée Jacquemart-André
9. Fondation Louis Vuitton
10. Musée des Arts Décoratifs

Below you will find practical information about each museum’s opening hours plus descriptions of current and upcoming exhibitions, as well as past shows you may have missed.

1. Musée d’Orsay

The d’Orsay Museum is perhaps the greatest museum in the world devoted to a particular style of art: primarily sculpture, painting and furniture created in France between 1848 and 1914.  Famous for its collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces, the museum also showcases the important 19th century movements leading up to Impressionism (Romanticism, the Academic painters such as Bouguereau, Cabanel, Ingres and Gérôme, the Barbizon School & Naturalism) and the groups that followed Impressionism (the Pont-Aven School, Symbolism, Les Nabis & Fauvism). 

Bal du moulin de la Galette (1876) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (top left), Avenue des Champs-Élysées & Place de la Concorde (top right), The School of Plato by Jean Delville (above).
Paris, d'Orsay

The museum opened in 1986, set inside a Beaux-Arts railway station (completed in 1900).  Even if you are not a fan of Impressionist paintings, the hype and a visit are justified:  the architecture is stunning, and the transformation from a train station to an art museum is fascinating.  Permission was granted to demolish the railroad station in 1970; fortunately, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs turned down plans to build a hotel on this site! 

Paris d'Orsay
Paris d'Orsay
Interior of the Tea Room Le Grand Teddy, 1917 (above) by Edouard Vuillard
Paris d'Orsay
Three paintings (above) by Pierre Bonnard. Below: View of the Louvre from the roof of the Musée d’Orsay.
Paris, d'Orsay roof

In September, A Norwegian (Edvard Munch) in Paris

From September 20, 2022 through January 22, 2023, the d’Orsay will be presenting “Edvard Munch: A Poem of Love, Life and Death” — a major exhibition organized in collaboration with the Munch Museum in Oslo. Featuring about 100 works of art, this large-scale presentation will cover the Norwegian artist’s entire career: drawings, prints, engravings and paintings.

Red and White, 1899-1900 by Edvard Munch

Art Lovers Tips:  Do not miss the furniture (below) and pastels in the Musée d’Orsay.  Visit late in the day, especially on Thursdays, or perhaps at lunchtime.  Consider buying an annual membership for expedited entry into the d’Orsay and the l’Orangerie.

Paris d'Orsay period room
"Le cirque" by Georges Seurat, one of many Post-Impressionist masterpieces at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris
 Le cirque by Georges Seurat (above), one of many Post-Impressionist masterpieces at the d’Orsay.
Charing Cross Bridge, 1906 by André Derain

Paintings by van Gogh (above), Paul Serusier (below left) and Maurice Denis (below right).

La Machine Restaurant in Bougival, 1905 by Maurice de Vlaminck

Previous Exhibitions Organized by the d’Orsay in Paris

Additional images from retrospectives presented by the Musée d’Orsay: Pointillism, Gaudí, Degas and more, can be found in our article entitled: Previous Exhibitions at the Musée d’Orsay.

Pointillism in d’Orsay

A top-notch temporary exhibition “Signac the Collector” was shown from October 12, 2021 to February 13, 2022. Paul Signac was a Neo-Impressionist painter who worked with Georges Seurat to advance the movement known as Pointillism.

In 1884, when he was 20 years old and an admirer of Monet and Impressionism, Signac met Seurat at the first Salon des Artistes Indépendants. Seven years later, Signac became the leader of the Pointillist movement — when Seurat (1859 — 1891) died unexpectedly — and Signac created works such as Saint-Tropez, La Bouée Rouge (below) in 1895. 

Finally the cinema! Arts, Images and Shows in France (1833-1907)

The exhibition Finally the cinema! — which closed on January 16, 2022 — examined the dialog between the development of cinematographic images and the history of painting in France from the years 1895-1907.

Paris Gaudi

Gaudí at the d’Orsay closed July 17, 2022

Paris Furniture Gaudi

Closed on Mondays.  Open Tuesday to Sunday 9:30 – 6:00 (18:00).  Open 9:30 – 9:45 (21:45) on Thursdays.  Metro # 12 to Solferino is best, or Metro # 1 and # 8 to Concorde.

2.  Musée du Louvre

The pyramid of Louvre Paris
I.M. Pei’s glass & metal pyramid has served as the main entrance to the Louvre since 1989.

The Louvre Museum has fabulous holdings of Western Art — it’s the largest museum in the world — and the finest collections of Egyptian, Near Eastern, Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities.  The Louvre is also the world’s most visited museum, receiving more than 10 million visitors a year, and its official website warns: “Admission without pre-booked tickets not guaranteed.”  We chose not to describe the Louvre as the #1 Museum in Paris because possessing the greatest collection does not guarantee the most enjoyable experience. 

Paris Napoleon III Apartments
A room in the style of Luis XIV inside the Napoleon III Apartments (above).

Despite the museum’s best efforts (and the gorgeous glass Pyramid opened in 1989) the Louvre is composed of three separate pavilions. You must visit the Louvre.  It is amazing, but it can also be challenging — just ask anyone who waited for years to view the Mona Lisa and inquire “Were you satisfied, or disappointed?”

Portrait of Caroline Riviere, 1806 by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

A tiny presentation of jackets embroidered with jewels, gold & rock crystal (pictured below) created by the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent are on display in the Galerie d’Apollon (room 705, Denon Wing) through September 18, 2022. 

This honor for the French couturier, who died in Paris in 2008, is presented here to illuminate a dialogue with the lavish crown jewels. 

First designed in the 1660s, the gold decoration of the Gallery of Apollo was completed in the mid-19th century to give visual form to the sun’s power within our solar system.  This room has housed the Louvre’s collection of French Crown Jewels since 1887.

King Louis XIV purchased this Polish Eagle (garnet surrounded by 149 rubies) in 1673
View of the Louvre Museum from the Tuileries Gardens in Paris.
View of the Louvre Museum from the Tuileries Gardens.

Closed on Tuesdays.  Open Wednesday through Monday 9:00 – 6:00 (18:00).  Metro # 1 and # 7 to Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre.

Above left: 3,000-year-old reliefs from the Assyrian city of Nimrud
Middle: Renaissance painting
Right: The Hellenistic sculpture “Winged Victory of Samothrace”

Art Lovers Tips: Upon arrival inside the Louvre, ask for a museum map, learn which sections are closed that day, choose what you wish to see, and seek advice regarding the most logical itinerary — remember, there are three pavilions.  First, head to Near Eastern Antiquities (Mesopotamia, within the Tigris-Euphrates river system) for the best collection within the Louvre and the least touristed!  Then, see Michelangelo’s Slaves.  Finally, mix it up a bit and see something different such as the Apartments of Napoléon III, Egyptian artifacts (spanning 30 dynasties over 3 millennia, the world’s largest collection of this type) or African Art (hidden near the Porte des Lions entrance) in the Dept. of the Arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

Below: Exterior of the Centre Pompidou.

Exterior of the Centre Pompidou in Paris

3.  Centre Georges Pompidou Musée National d’Art Moderne

To appreciate the Pompidou Center, one must embrace an understanding of urban planning, revolutionary change, and architectural history.  Architects Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano’s controversial experiment transformed a gritty, rundown section of Paris — the Beaubourg — into an energetic multi-cultural neighborhood open to learning and contemporary art forms.  By leaving the building’s mechanical and structural systems exposed on the façade, the first important Inside-Out high-tech structure was born in 1977 using more than 15,000 tons of prefabricated steel — and the opposition was fierce.  “Paris has its own monster, just like the one in Loch Ness”, screamed an article in Le Figaro. When Rogers revealed to a woman passing by the Pompidou that he designed it, she struck him with her umbrella.  Later, the jury that awarded Rogers the 2007 Pritzker Prize got it right, noting the Pompidou “revolutionized museums, transforming what had once been elite monuments into popular places of social and cultural exchange, woven into the heart of the city.” 

BELOW: two paintings by Robert Delaunay (left) and a sculpture by Henri Laurens (right).

Born in Kherson, Ukraine, in 1888 Vladimir Baranoff-Rossiné painted his self-portrait (above) in 1910. He was killed at Auschwitz in 1944.
When architect Richard Rogers told a woman passing by the Pompidou Centre that he designed it, she hit him with her umbrella.  However, virtually everyone agrees that the museum and restaurant on top of the Pompidou offer the finest views of Paris.
When architect Richard Rogers told a woman passing by the Pompidou that he designed it, she hit him with her umbrella.  The museum & restaurant on top of the Pompidou offer fine views of Paris.

Upcoming Exhibitions at the Pompidou

Shirley Jaffe: An American Woman in Paris
April 20 – August 29, 2022

The NEW OBJECTIVITY Movement during the 1920s in Germany
May 11 – September 5, 2022

Alice Neel
October 5, 2022 – January 16, 2023

Alice Neel Marxist Girl (Irene Peslikis)
Marxist Girl (Irene Peslikis), 1972 by Alice Neel

To learn more about Neel’s ideals and art, please read our article “Alice Neel in the Guggenheim Bilbao — Astonishing Paintings.”

Paris, O'Keeffe Red flower
Oriental Poppies, 1927 by Georgia O’Keeffe

Critics may say the Pompidou cannot compare with MoMA in New York and Tate Modern in London; however, we strongly disagree.  If you want to view additional images from retrospectives presented by the Pompidou Centre in recent years, the art of Georgia O’Keeffe, Francis Bacon and Victor Vasarely are highlighted in our article entitled: “Great Exhibitions from the Past at the Pompidou Centre.”

Op Art (above) by Victor Vasarely and a triptych by Francis Bacon (below)

Closed on Tuesdays.  Open 11:00 – 9:00 (21:00).  Metro #11 to Rambuteau, or Metro # 1 to Hôtel de Ville.

Art Lovers Tips:  Enjoy the view from the top of the Pompidou.

4.  Musée Marmottan Monet

Paris Museums
Marmottan visitors may see paintings by Monet (above) and special exhibitions.

In Paris from April 13 — August 21, 2022 “The Theatre of Emotions”

Through August 21, the Marmottan will explore the history of expressing emotions through painting by bringing together more than 75 paintings (including The Supplicant by Pablo Picasso) from the Middle Ages to the present day for the exhibit “The Theatre of Emotions.”

The Supplicant, 1937 by Pablo Picasso. Photo by Frans Vandewalle. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Marmottan Museum rounds out our picks for the Top 5 museums in Paris due to the strength and depth of its permanent collection, plus its ability to mount one refreshing temporary show after another.  A perfect example is “THE BLUE HOUR of Peder Severin Krøyer” which was on view from January 28 — September 26, 2021. Krøyer was a Danish landscape painter and portraitist known for capturing on canvas the “blue hour” (a meteorological phenomenon preceding twilight, visible only from the northernmost seashores).

Paintings by Peder Severin Krøyer on view in 2021 included “Bateaux de Peche” from 1884 (top row), “Roses” (above left) and “Summer Afternoon on the South Beach at Skagen” (above right), both from 1893.

Please go see the special exhibition and permanent collection, and let us know your opinion.  The good fortune of possessing the largest collection of paintings by the greatest Impressionist — Claude Monet — within a lovely building in the leafy 16th arrondissement should not be underestimated. The Marmottan is a gem!

Paris, Marmottan

Closed on Mondays.  Open 10:00 – 6:00 (18:00).  Open 10:00 – 9:00 (21:00) on Thursdays.  Metro #9 to La Muette.

Paris, Monet
Monet’s garden at Giverny is closed to the public from November to the end of March.
Paris, Monet

Art Lovers Tips: Michel Monet (Claude’s son) gave his personal collection of his father’s paintings to the Marmottan.  The Musee Marmottan now owns about 100 Monets, including many large paintings inspired by the artist’s garden at Giverny 45 miles (75 km) from Paris.  You may visit Claude Monet’s home and garden at Giverny from the end of March through the end of October.

Below: The l’Orangerie, Eiffel Tower & Grand Palais as seen from the Tuileries Gardens.

The l’Orangerie, Eiffel Tower & Grand Palais as seen from the Tuileries Gardens during sunrise in Paris.

5.  Grand Palais & Petit Palais

Grand Palais

The Grand Palais was built at the same time as the Gare d’Orsay to serve as an exhibition hall for the Exposition Universelle (the World’s Fair held in Paris from April – November 1900).  Nearly 50 million people visited this structure in the year 1900 alone.  Famous for its conservatory-style glass roof, the Grand Palais is a masterpiece of Art Nouveau and Classicism, and in the past has presented the finest art exhibitions. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Grand Palais is currently closed for renovation. The structure, which has never previously benefitted from a full restoration over the past 122 years, will reopen in 2024 to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the nave.

Closed on Tuesdays.  Open Thursday to Monday 10:00 – 8:00 (20:00).  Open 10:00 – 10:00 (22:00) on Wednesdays.  Metro # 1 and # 13 to Champs Élysées-Clemenceau, or Metro # 9 to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Paris, Le petit Palais
Petit Palais

The Petit Palais, built in the Beaux-Arts style and possessing a circular central courtyard and garden, is a museum offering free entry to its permanent collection, which includes paintings by Charles Giron, Pierre Bonnard and Claude Monet (below). 

The Virgin with Angels, 1900 by William Bouguereau

Upcoming Exhibit in Paris Featuring Walter Sickert Opens October 14, 2022

Girl performing white dress Paris
Little Dot Hetherington at the Bedford Music Hall, 1888 (above) by Walter Sickert
Sickert
The Integrity of Belgium, 1914
Sickert couple Paris
Jack and Jill, 1937
SIckert Paris
Brighton Pierrots, 1915 (above) by Walter Sickert

Previous Exhibitions in Petit Palais

More images from the previous exhibitions presented by the Grand Palais and Petit Palais are highlighted in our article entitled: “The Best Past Exhibits at the Grand Palais & Petit Palais”.

Giovanni Boldini (1842 — 1931) in Paris

Admission is charged for temporary exhibits, including a retrospective of “Boldini” which was held from March 29 through July 24, 2022.

Portrait of Princess Bibesco, 1918 (above) by Giovanni Boldini
Paris Boldini Ship
The Return of the Fishing Boats, Étretat, 1879
Paris cafe Boldini
Conversation at the Café, 1879

Boldini Possessed a Dynamism Ahead of His Time

Unlike some of the other gifted portrait painters of his era — Alfred Stevens, Anders Zorn, John Singer Sargent, Joaquín Sorolla — Boldini used brushstrokes to energize his canvases with a sense of movement and liveliness.  His vibrant compositions from 1898-1899, for example, evoke the spirit which led to Futurism in 1909, as well as the gestural abstraction that informed the Action Painters 10 to 20 years after Boldini’s death in 1931.

Paris Red dress woman Boldini
Portrait of Miss Bell, 1903
Altar Paris Petit Palace
Altar of the Church of the Gesuati in Venice, 1907
Paris Boldini green feathers
Luisa Casati with Peacock Feathers, 1911-1913 (above) by Giovanni Boldini

A Great Artist from Chuhuiv, Ukraine

The previous exhibition “Painting the Soul of Russia,” a retrospective on Ilya Repin, was opened to the public at the Petit Palais from October 5, 2021 to January 23, 2022.

Born in Ukraine, Repin became one of the greatest painters of the 19th century and his international renown brought art from Ukraine and Russia into the mainstream of European culture. Repin is mentioned in our article “EXPRESSIONISM — The Best Art on View in Switzerland”, because both Marianne von Werefkin and Alexej von Jawlensky traveled to St. Petersburg to study under Repin.

In addition to the Repin retrospective, the Petit Palais presented a free temporary exhibition entitled “The Narcissus Theorem,” displaying more than 70 new works of art by Jean-Michel Othoniel scattered among the architectural features of the palace and its garden. On view through January 2, 2022, this dialogue (photos below) among sculpture, nature and architecture invented by Othoniel represented this artist’s largest solo project in Paris since his 2011 retrospective at the Centre Pompidou.

Closed on Mondays. Open Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 – 6:00 (18:00).

Art Lovers Tips:  Purchase your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in line for entry into the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais!

6.  Musée National de l’Orangerie des Tuileries

The l’Orangerie is located smack in the center of it all, with the Louvre on one side, the d’Orsay across the river Seine, and the Place de la Concorde/Grand Palais to the other side.  Located within the Tuileries Gardens, the l’Orangerie is a sentimental favorite for art lovers thanks to Claude Monet’s gift to the City of Paris:  2 spectacular oval rooms containing 8 panels of water lilies measuring nearly 300 feet in length (91 meters long), a small detail of which is shown in the photo below.  The 1852 building originally stored citrus trees during winter.  In 1921, when the State decided to use the building for fine arts, Monet was already at work on a series of paintings entitled “Nymphéas” destined for the Rodin Museum.  The plan was changed and Monet assisted in the design of these 2 rooms, lit by natural light. 

Paris, Monet Rooms
Claude Monet’s Water Lilies
Paris, Monet Rooms
Paris, Monet Rooms

The museum opened in 1927, a few months after Monet’s death, and now also houses fine works (below) by Picasso, Renoir, Cézanne and various Impressionists. 

Special Exhibition on “Impressionist Décor”

The exhibition “IMPRESSIONIST DÉCORATIONS: Tracing the Roots of Monet’s Waterlilies” was open through July 11, 2022 on the l’Orangerie’s lower level. Painting landscapes outdoors, rendering luminous flowers on canvas, presenting scenes of modern life on rivers and farms, and posing female models in the latest fashions (including accessories like fans and umbrellas) seem like tame artistic activities, by today’s standards. In France during the 1870s and 1880s, however, focusing on such pursuits and subject matter was ground-breaking for artists such as Pissarro, Manet, Renoir, Monet, Caillebotte and Degas.

Monet Paris
The Dahlias, 1876 by Claude Monet

Charles Baudelaire — the famous poet, art critic & essayist — derisively called representations of flowers on canvas “dining-room paintings.” The Impressionists excelled at depictions of nature, well aware that such works of art were popular with their clients and patrons who wanted to create harmonious, decorative atmospheres within their homes. Monet even referred to his Water Lily series, which he installed in two oval rooms here at the l’Orangerie, as “grandes décorations.”

Monet chrisantemas Paris
Chrysanthemums, 1897 by Claude Monet
The Goose Girl, 1890 by Camille Pissarro

The Impressionists held eight exhibitions (independent from the State-sponsored Salon) between 1874 and 1886. The 4th Impressionist Exhibition (1879) included more than 20 fans — a fashion accessory (and tool of seduction) in vogue during the 2nd half of the 19th century in Europe, especially Spain, and Japan.

Degas Dark SemiOval Paris
Two Dancers, 1878 by Edgar Degas
Monet Round Paris
Water Lilies, 1908 by Claude Monet
Paris Decorative art arch

In 1890, Gustave Caillebotte painted “The River Bank at Petit-Gennevilliers and the Seine” (above) as a decorative piece for the apartment of his younger brother, Martial. Caillebotte and Claude Monet, both avid gardeners, were the best of friends. Shortly after Caillebotte’s death in 1894, Monet received a painting of chrysanthemums from Caillebotte; and Monet wrote the following words to describe his good friend: “If he had lived instead of dying prematurely, he would have enjoyed the same upturn in fortunes as we did, for he was full of talent.” In 1897, Monet paid tribute to Caillebotte by painting a thicket of chrysanthemums (below), without a traditional sense of perspective, composed of a sophisticated arrangement of colors.

Monet chrisantemas2 Paris

Claude Monet created two seascapes of the cliffs and rock formations at Étretat while staying at an inn in Normandy. These paintings were painted directly on inn furniture — in this case the doors of an armoire (above left) — as a form of decoration. The second seascape (below) was removed from the inn and placed in a new frame in the 20th century.

L’Aiguille vue a travers la porte d’Amont, 1885-1886 (above) by Claude Monet
Paris Renoir Decorative
In 1879, Auguste Renoir was commissioned to depict two scenes (above and below) from Richard Wagner’s Opera Tannhäuser

Even though the Impressionists sought independence by staging self-organized exhibitions of their creations, Pissarro, Monet and Renoir sought commissions from wealthy clients for a much-needed steady source of income. Even Caillebotte, who inherited a large fortune at age 26 from his wealthy, upper-class Parisian family, included decorative works of art in the Impressionist exhibitions in order to obtain commissions.

L’Automne {Portrait of Mery Laurent}, 1882 (above) by Edouard Manet
Paris art
The Villas at Bordighera, 1884 by Claude Monet
Paris fan2
Hillsides of Chaponval, 1882 by Camille Pissarro

Camille Pissarro created the fan (above), circa 1882. “The Four Seasons” (below), painted by Pissarro between 1872 and 1873, are believed to have been commissioned by a wealthy businessman and art collector for his home.

Paris Landscape
The Pond at Montfoucault, 1875 by Camille Pissarro
Paris fan3
Workers in the Fields, 1883 by Camille Pissarro

David Hockney at the l’Orangerie in Paris

“David Hockney — A Year in Normandy” (see five images, below) was exhibited from October 13, 2021 through February 14, 2022 at the l’Orangerie.

Closed on Tuesdays.  Open Wednesday to Monday 9:00 – 6:00 (18:00).  Last admission at 5:15 (17:15).  Metro # 1 and # 8 to Concorde.

The Tuileries Gardens are located just outside the Monet rooms of the l'Orangerie
The Tuileries Gardens are located just outside the Monet rooms of the l’Orangerie.

Art Lovers Tips:   Many of you will consider your visit here an unforgettable highlight of Paris.  Leave extra time to return to the Monet rooms to think about your life and what you hope to accomplish — this is a special space for contemplation. We suggest you come here first if you wish to inquire about a Combined Ticket for the l’Orangerie and the Musée d’Orsay.

7.  Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac

Located near the Eiffel Tower, the Quai Branly Museum has a collection of over one million objects from Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania; 3,500 are on display.  If you want to take a break from European art and try something different, come here.  The exterior of the Quai Branly is alive with plants clinging to the walls, while the interior exudes a unique feeling — a contemplative calm — completely different from most museums.  If you give this museum a chance it will win you over, and other museums will feel generic (like a Shopping Mall) by comparison.  The focus here is on discovering ancient artifacts and art, beautifully lit along winding paths, set against a dramatically dark background. You should visit the museum by April 10, 2022 to see more than 150 works of art from Southwest Congo in a show entitled “A SHARE OF THE SHADOW“, highlighting the region of Bandundu renowned for its masks associated with Mukanda initiatory rites and wooden statuary.

Closed on Mondays.  Open Tuesday, Wednesday & Sunday 11:00 – 7:00 (19:00).  Open Thursday, Friday & Saturday 11:00 – 9:00 (21:00).  Metro # 9 to Alma-Marceau, or # 6 to Bir Hakeim.

Art Lovers Tips:   Stop in Le Café Jacques or, better yet, reserve a table in Les Ombres Restaurant and enjoy a special Eiffel Tower view. 

8. Musée Jacquemart-André

The Jacquemart-André provides a very different experience from most of the venues on our Top-10 List. This is a private museum, located in the 8th arrondissement at 158 Boulevard Haussmann, that has preserved the feeling of a private home. The mansion was completed in 1875 and opened to the public as a museum in 1913.

As a result of its uniqueness, the Jacquemart-André possesses pluses and minuses for art lovers. The mansion itself is both impressive and intimate, and the permanent collection of Italian sculpture and painting (from the Florentine & Venetian schools, in particular) is first-rate. Most visitors come here for the fabulous and varied temporary exhibitions; however, the intimate rooms dedicated for exhibition space are simply way too small.

Through July 25, 2022 Go See the GALLEN-KALLELA exhibition

Ad Astra, 1907 (above) by Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Paris Kallela Landscape 1
View of Lake Vuokatti, 1890
Paris Kallela Landscape 2
Clouds Above a Lake, 1904
Paris Kallela Landscape Orange
Wild Landscape on the Lake, 1892
Paris Kallela Lake Clouds
Cloud Towers, 1904
Paris Kallela Landscape 3
Spring Night, 1914
Paris Kallela Sleeping Man
Wound Fever, 1889
Paris Kallela House winter
Kalela Winter Night, 1896
Paris Kallela Landscape 3
Autumn with Five Crosses, 1902
Paris Kallela Roses drawing girl
Mary Sewing in Kalela, 1897
Paris Kallela Lake reflection
Lake Keitele, 1905
Paris Kallela Landscape 5
Storm Clouds on the Horizon, 1897
Paris Kallela Stained glass
Finland, Stand Up, 1896 {stained glass}
Paris Kallela Mysticism
Paris Kallela Triptich
The Legend of Aino, 1888-1889 (above) by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

Past Exhibit in Paris: BOTTICELLI

From September 10, 2021 through January 24, 2022, a small, high-quality exhibition entitled “Botticelli” was presented at the Jacquemart-André Museum, where it was possible to appreciate the Italian painter’s Virgin and Infant (below left) and Crucifix.

Below: Exterior view of the Fondation Vuitton.

Exterior view of the Fondation Vuitton in Paris
The Vuitton “… looks like sails, and it looks like a boat and it looks like a whale, and it looks like a crystal palace that is in the middle of an explosion”.

9.  Fondation Louis Vuitton

The Fondation Vuitton is a museum and cultural center designed by Frank Gehry adjacent to the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne.  The project was initially projected to cost 100 million euros; however, the final figure is estimated to be more than 780 million euros (with over 600 million euros coming from the French government). While the permanent collection is predictable and uninspired, the temporary exhibitions have been exceptionally strong.  Masterpieces from the collection of Ivan Morozov (1871-1921) and his brother Mikhail (1870-1903) were on display in the much-anticipated “The Morozov Collection: Icons of Modern Art” from September 22, 2021 to April 3, 2022, including “The Window, Tiraspol” (below) painted in 1909 by Mikhail Larionov. The brothers Morozov were patrons of the arts in Moscow who amassed an exceptional collection of Russian and French modern art from the early 20th Century. 

Paris, Vuitton, Morozov Collection
Paris, Vuitton, Morozov Collection

“Lake Ruovesi” (above) was painted by Akseli Gallen-Kallela in 1909. For the Paris World Fair of 1900, Gallen-Kallela (1865 — 1931) created frescoes for the Pavilion of Finland, securing his stature as the leading Finnish artist of his era. The Morozov Collection possesses the finest holdings of French Impressionism and especially Modernism, such as “Entrance to the Kasbah” (below left) and “Zorah on the Terrace” (below right) completed between 1912 and 1913 in Tangier during one of Henri Matisse’s stays in Morocco, as well as a decorative triptych (bottom) by Pierre Bonnard.

The Vuitton’s interesting architectural elements are open to interpretation, and opinions have varied. Christopher Hawthorne (LA Times) said “The design is brilliant, a late-career triumph” for Gehry; but Paul Goldberger’s description in Vanity Fair came closer to the truth: the Vuitton “looks like sails, and it looks like a boat, and it looks like a whale, and it looks like a crystal palace that is in the middle of an explosion”.  You should visit and judge for yourself.

The Fondation Vuitton in Paris is located in the Bois de Boulogne, a park on 845 hectares of land (two and a half times the area of New York's Central Park)
The Fondation Vuitton is located in the Bois de Boulogne, a park on 845 hectares of land (two and a half times the area of New York’s Central Park).
 "A Bar at the Folies-Bergère" by Edouard Manet was loaned to the Vuitton, Paris in 2019.  Paintings from Russia's Hermitage, Pushkin & Tretyakov collections will be shown in 2020.
 “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère” by Edouard Manet (above) was loaned to the Vuitton in 2019.

New Exhibition

The Vuitton is presenting “SIMON HANTAÏ: the Centerary Exhibition” from May 18 through August 29, 2022. This show includes more than 130 of the artist’s paintings, the majority of which are large in format, created between 1957 and 2000.

A different perspective of The Vuitton from the Korean Garden in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris
A different perspective of The Vuitton from the Korean Garden in the Bois de Boulogne.

Art Lovers Tips: Please note, the Fondation is not particularly attractive in cold weather.  Visit on a warm, sunny day to enjoy the Vuitton and surroundings at their best.  Check the Fondation Louis Vuitton official website for transportation options and Opening Hours, and additional special exhibitions. We recommend Metro #1 to Les Sablons + 15-minute walk.

10. Musée des Arts décoratifs

SHOCKING! Elsa Schiaparelli’s Surreal Worlds

Through January 22, 2023, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris is honoring the entire body of work created by the Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli. The museum, located next to the Louvre Museum, has assembled more than 500 pieces of art including jewelry, costumes, and fashion accessories for this blockbuster exhibition.

In addition to costumes created at Maison Schiaparelli during Elsa’s lifetime, this delightful show examines the legacy of the Schiaparelli style as interpreted by Galliano, Lacroix, and Saint Laurent, among other fashion greats. Daniel Roseberry, artistic director of the House of Schiaparelli since 2019, boldly interprets the heritage of Elsa Schiaparelli with his own designs (see image below).

Permanent Collection of the Musée des Arts décoratifs

Of course, there are more than 10 great museums in Paris.  Here are 5 more to check out:

11.  Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris
12.  Musée national des Arts asiatiques – Guimet
13.  Musée Nissim de Camondo
14.  Institut du monde arabe
15.  Musée Rodin

The Rodin Museum maximizes the world’s largest collection of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture by using the lovely gardens surrounding the Hôtel Biron, which the artist used as his workshop from 1908 until his death (1917).  The Hôtel became a museum in 1919.  Rodin donated his entire sculpture collection and the Impressionist paintings he owned to the French State on the condition that the Hôtel Biron in Paris and the building where he resided (in Meudon, 9 km away) would become museums dedicated to his body of work.  Rodin loved to collect antiques. The exhibition entitled “Rodin´s Dream of Egypt” will be open to the public from October 18, 2022 through March 5, 2023 and will include hundreds of recently-restored items including Rodin’s personal collection of Egyptian art. We visited the Rodin Museum and, unfortunately, we found the gardens in need of sprucing up. The outdoor sculptures should be cleaned and better maintained. Please share with us your opinions on the Rodin Museum.

Closed on Mondays.  Open Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 6:30 (18:30).  Metro #13 to Varenne, or #8 to Invalides.

Art Lovers Tips:   Do not visit on a rainy day.  Come to the Musée Rodin on a sunny day when the gardens and the view of Les Invalides may be fully appreciated.

Musée du Luxembourg

The Luxembourg Museum has been removed from our list of the best venues for art in Paris due to the weakness of recent exhibitions.

The current exhibition entitled “MIRRORS OF THE WORLD — Masterpieces from the Dresden cabinet of curiosities” (on view through January 15, 2023) is awful.

Paris Luxemburg Lemplicka
Suzy Solidor, 1935 (above) by Tamara de Lempicka is in the Pioneers exhibit.

The previous exhibit, displayed from March 2 through July 10, 2022, at the Luxembourg Museum attempted to highlight the influential role of women in the development of new genres in sculpture, photography, painting, textile and film from the end of the 19th century through the Roaring Twenties. “Portrait of Natalie Clifford Barney, Woman of Letters” from 1920 (below left) and “At the Seaside” from 1914 (below right), both by the painter known as Romaine Brooks, were on view.

That exhibition entitled “PIONEERS: Artists in the Paris of the Roaring Twenties” was a trainwreck.

With the exception of a handful of paintings by Suzanne Valadon, Beatrice Romaine Goddard (who painted under the pseudonym Romaine Brooks) and Gerda Wegener, we could not recommend the previous exhibition to our readers.  If you want to do some research on your own, we encourage you to learn more about two exceptionally talented artists from Poland — whose works of art appeared in the “Pioneers” show — namely, Tamara Lempicka and Mela Muter.  Lempicka (born Tamara Rosalia Gurwik-Górska in 1898 in Warsaw) was best known for her portraits executed in the Art Deco style.  On canvas, she invented a unique blend of refined Cubism and Neoclassicism (inspired in particular by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres).  Lempicka left Europe for North America in 1939 and died in Mexico in 1980.  Maria Melania Mutermilch (1876 — 1967) used the professional name Mela Muter.  Born in Warsaw, Muter left Poland in 1901 at the age of twenty-five and settled in Paris.  Muter’s paintings, containing strong brushwork and vivid colors, swiftly gained popularity in France.  Muter fled Paris for Avignon during the Nazi occupation, but returned after the war and continued painting until her death in 1967.

Even though we found the “Mirrors of the World” and “Pioneers” shows deeply flawed and disappointing, we hope the Luxembourg Museum will be able to rejoin our Top 10 List in the future. This museum has presented high-quality exhibitions in the past and possesses historical importance. The Luxembourg was the first French museum opened to the public (in 1750) and it is blessed by its surroundings: inside the Luxembourg Gardens in the Latin Quarter. In 2021, this small museum organized an outstanding display of photos (above right and below) by Vivian Maier, the American street photographer. The Vivian Maier exhibit, presented from September 15, 2021 until January 16, 2022, was a triumph. Please enjoy the photographs (below) taken by Vivian Maier.

Open every day from 10:30 – 7:00 (19:00).  Open late on Mondays from 10:30 – 10:00 (22:00).  Metro #4 to Saint Sulpice, or Metro #10 to Mabillon.

Art Lovers Tips: When you arrive by Metro, you may choose to stop at Rue Guisarde, 6 for ice cream at “Amorino,” which opens at 12:30, and then pass through the Place Saint-Sulpice with its unique church built in 1754 — where the murderous monk Silas found a clue in his search for the Holy Grail in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code

After your visit to the Luxembourg museum, stroll among the flowers in the famous Jardin du Luxembourg and sit in one of the chairs near the Medici Fountain (pictured below) which was built around 1630 then moved to its present location in 1864. 

Jardin du Luxembourg

QUESTION:  What is the most famous museum that did not make our list of the 10 best museums in Paris?

ANSWER:  Musée National Picasso – Paris.  This Museum is currently very poorly administered.  There are too few paintings by Picasso on display, in our opinion, and we do not want you to be disappointed. 

What do you think about this article on Paris museums?  Your feedback will assist us in providing more focused content for you in future articles.  Your comments are encouraged and most welcome, and feel free to share our blog with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and similar platforms!

2 Comments

  • Svetlana Mudrik

    It’s look very interesting. I definitely will ask you for help for my next trip.
    Thank you very much!

  • Walt

    My tastes in museums have changed over time just like my taste in wine has matured. My favorite museum used to be the D’Orsay for their fabulous collection of Impressionist Art, followed by the Louvre and then the Pompidou. As my visits have progressed I appreciate the Pompidou more and more. Their collection has grown and their Exhibits are absolutely first class. While all art in Paris is fab, we probably all have our favorites du jour.

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