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Museums | Culture | Europe

10 Best Paris museums for art lovers

With over 130 museums in Paris, the is something for everyone to enjoy. Those who love science, history and architecture will have a lot to choose from. Others looking to explore the more quirky and unique Paris museums will find magic, fashion, wine, music and perfume museums. However, if you love art, these are the 10 best Paris museums for you.

10 Best Paris museums for art lovers | kasiawrites
Best museums in Paris for art lovers

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Best Paris museums for art lovers

Choosing the best Paris museums, just like choosing art, can be very subjective. There is no denying that all of the museums in Paris offer outstanding collections of art, history and culture of France and the world. However, it’s also important to note that there are many different types of museums in Paris, and listing them all would be a very long and overwhelming read. That’s why I’ve decided to highlight the ones I think will appeal to art lovers in particular.

Do you love reading about different Paris museums? You might enjoy learning about the Pantheon in Paris!

Musée Louvre (The Louvre Museum)

📍 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris

The Louvre is probably the most famous museum in Paris and one of the world’s most visited. Each year, more than 10 million visitors explore the priceless collections housed in the equally magnificent buildings. With over 782,000 square feet (over 72,000 m2), the Louvre Museum has one of the world’s largest art collections.

The Louvre dates back to the late 12th century when the King of France, Philip II, commissioned a garrison fortress to protect and watch over the city. Over the years, it underwent numerous changes and additions, with the royals moving their official residence out of the city. During the 16th century, it once again became the official residence of the kings of France.  

outside view of the Louvre museum with pyramid
The Louvre, one of the best Paris museums for art lovers

Subsequently, it became the formidable complex we see today. Inside are priceless paintings by Italian, Dutch and French masters, including the Mona Lisa. Visitors can also admire ancient sculptures, precious art objects, including jewellery and textiles from all over the world. I’m not gonna lie, the Louvre truly is one of the best Paris museums and my happy place.

Want to know more about one of the best Paris museums? Check out Magic of the Louvre Museum!

Musée d’Orsay

📍 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris

Musée d’Orsay makes the list of the best Paris museums for art lovers for two reasons. One is its extensive collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art from artists like Van Gogh, Gaugin, Cézanne, Manet, Monet and Renoir. The other is the incredible buildings it’s housed in.  

Located Left Bank of the Seine River is a former railway station – Gare d’Orsay. Built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, it served as the railway terminal until 1939. Before it officially became a museum in 1986, it served as a mailing station during the war and, subsequently, a movie set.

10 Best Paris museums for art lovers | kasiawrites
Best museums in Paris – Museum d’Orsay

It narrowly escaped demolition, and today, Musée d’Orsay is one of the biggest art museums in Europe. Over three million visitors come here every year to view over 2,000 paintings, 600 sculptures and other works.

Love reading about the best Paris museums? Then you’ll love the slideshow on how Musée d’Orsay turned into a museum.

Musée de l’Orangerie

📍 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris

Musée de l’Orangerie started as a winter shelter for the orange trees in the Tuileries Palace at the request of Emperor Napoleon III. What became a fancy greenhouse in 1852 was used to store orange trees and an event venue until 1922.  

Today it contains an extensive collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings. Here you’ll find Monet’s Water Lilies and works by Cézanne, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Renoir and Rousseau.

Musée Picasso

📍 5 Rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris

I’d say that some of the best Paris museums are those based on the works of the many incredible artists that lived here at one point or another. While I haven’t included them all on this list, I had to include the Picasso Museum.

Located in the Hôtel Salé, the Picasso Museum (full name Musée National Picasso-Paris) is dedicated to the genius of Pablo Picasso. Here you’ll find a collection of over 5,000 pieces ranging from paintings, sculptures and books to ceramics and numerous archival items, including manuscripts and personal letters.

10 Best Paris museums for art lovers | kasiawrites
Picasso Museum – one of the best Paris museums

Before going in, I knew Picasso was a famous painter that I studied in school.  While some of his work was interesting, I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan. However, I was impressed by how creative and versatile an artist Picasso was. Seeing his paintings and sculptures opened up an appreciation for the artist and his art that I didn’t know was in me.  Even if you’re not a huge Picasso fan, I will encourage you to step into his world, even if just for a few hours.

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Le Petit Palais

📍 Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris

The Petit Palais, much like the nearby Grand Palais, was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition and became a museum in 1902. Known as the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la ville de Paris or the Museum of Fine Arts of the city of Paris, it’s also a stunning architectural gem.

The building is shaped like a trapezium with four wings around a semi-circular garden. It blends the traditional and modern architectural styles offering a grandeur of a palace befitting Paris and its art.  

10 Best Paris museums for art lovers | kasiawrites
Le Petit Palais – one of the best museums in Paris for art lovers

The museum houses collections of paintings and furniture from Medieval and Renaissance to that of the 18th century. If you love art by the French and Dutch master, you’ll enjoy the works of Cézanne, Poussin, Monet, Rodin, Rembrandt and Rubens.

Musée National d’Art Moderne

📍 11 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris

Located inside the famous Center Pompidou, the Musée National d’Art Moderne (National Museum of Modern Art) is home to contemporary pieces of the 20th and 21st centuries. There are over 15,000 pieces in the museum’s permanent collections in addition to the frequent temporary exhibits.

Here you’ll find works by artists of Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Dada, Abstract art and Surrealism movements. Some of them include Dufy, Matisse, Lhote, Derain, Rouault, Soutine, Modigliani and Buffet. If you love modern art, this is the Paris museum for you.

Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme

📍 Hôtel de Saint-Aignan, 71 Rue du Temple, 75003 Paris

Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme (Museum of the Art and History of Judaism), also known as mahJ, is the biggest Jewish museum focused on art and history. Housed in the gorgeous 17th-century mansion Hôtel de Saint-Aignan, the museum retraces the history of the Jewish people of France, Europe and North Africa.

Here you’ll find a collection of 12,000 pieces, comprised of archives, manuscripts, religious objects, ceremonial dress, art and medieval gravestones from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. The museum has an extensive collection of works by Marc Chagall and Amedeo Modigliani.

10 Best Paris museums for art lovers | kasiawrites
Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac

📍 37 Quai Branly, 75007 Paris

Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac is dedicated to indigenous art and cultures of Africa, the Near East, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. The collections include over 370,00 art objects, 700,000 iconographical pieces and more than 200,000 reference works from the Neolithic period to the 20th century.

Many of the pieces were originally part of private collections that accumulated as a result of colonial expansion. These private cabinets of curiosities included natural history specimens, historical and archaeological pieces and art. During the 18th century and following the French Revolutions, specialized museums were created to showcase and preserve these collections.

Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac opened in 2006, bringing many of these collections under one roof. Today, the museums and attracts over a million visitors annually.

Musée Cognacq-Jay

📍 8 Rue Elzevir, 75003 Paris

Musée Cognacq-Jay originated as a private collection of Ernest Cognacq and his wife, Marie-Louise Jay. Upon his death in 1928, Ernest donated his collection of the 18thcentury art to the city. Here you’ll find over 1,200 items, including paintings, ceramics and jewellery accumulated between 1900 and 1927.

The collection focuses on the Age of Enlightenment and provides an insight into French art and society during the 18thcentury. This collection has been housed in other places before being transferred to its current location in 1990. The museum is free and is a great opportunity to admire artists like Rembrandt, Paul Cézanne and Edgar Degas.

10 Best Paris museums for art lovers | kasiawrites
Best Paris museums: Musée Cognacq-Jay, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Musée Cernuschi

📍 7 Avenue Velasquez, 75008 Paris

Musée Cernuschi is a museum of Asian art with extensive collections from China, Korea and Japan. It represents the vision and personal collections of Henri Cernuschi, an Italian patriot in exile in France. He amassed over 5,000 works of art that formed his collection’s core.

Henri built a private mansion to house his collection and left both to the city upon his death. The museum opened in 1898 and hosted numerous exhibitions focusing on art from China and Japan.  Additional artworks were added over the years with discoveries in Asia. The collection today includes over 12,000 items, obtained through numerous acquisitions and significant donations.

10 Best Paris museums for art lovers | kasiawrites
Patrick Janicek CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Further thoughts on the best Paris museums for art lovers

When it comes to picking the best museums in Paris, the choices are extensive. Those that love art will find it everywhere, as most Paris museums are endless treasure troves of priceless art. Architecture lovers can also admire the artful buildings that house these museums.

Paris has been a leading centre of European culture for centuries, so it’s not surprising to see such a grand amassment of priceless art here. Ultimately, only you can decide what the best Paris museums are for you. This list will get you started on your artful treasure hunt. Enjoy the adventure.

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    Kemi
    28 Oct 2020
    2:33am

    Only been to the Louvre when I spent a gap year and a half in France and I wasn’t impressed by Mona Lisa…oops! Lol.. I’d love to visit Musee d’Orsay as I’ve seen so many pics of it but Musee Jacques Chirac leaves a sour taste in my mouth as I know just how those indigenous African art pieces were amassed over time. Same as the British Museum with their huge collection of Nigerian sculpture and carvings from 1897 when they overthrew the King of the area, burnt his palace and looted all the art back to London. We still want it back.

      kasiawrites
      28 Oct 2020
      12:46pm

      I never understood the deal with Mona Lisa either! I always find it mind-blowing how all these people in the past just went around and took things (often unethically) and brought them back as some type of personal achievement. Unfortunately, I don’t see them giving any of these items back to the countries they came from.

    Wendy White
    28 Oct 2020
    11:54pm

    Musee d’Orsay is one of my favorite art museums in the world. I prefer it to the Louvre.I was in awe of Le Petit Palais but unfortunately didn’t get the chance to go inside.

      kasiawrites
      29 Oct 2020
      12:24pm

      It is a stunning one that’s for sure! Great art collection too!

    Marvin | Part-Time Passenger
    30 Oct 2020
    5:19am

    Thank your for this comprehensive post! Paris is full of museums and this is a great selection of some of them. Le Petit Palais is still on my list.

      kasiawrites
      30 Oct 2020
      11:35am

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Le Petit Palais def is a great one to check out.

    Becky Exploring
    31 Oct 2020
    12:35am

    What a great compilation of museums! I spent a semester in Paris and took a art history course which meant I basically lived in the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. Such breathtaking architecture in addition to all the stunning works of art inside.

      kasiawrites
      31 Oct 2020
      4:07pm

      Oh, that sounds fab! The Louvre is def one of my faves but there are so many other great ones. I am not picky, I’d go back and check them all out 🙂

    Travel for a while
    31 Oct 2020
    7:58am

    What a great collection! There’s never enough time in Paris to see everything you want to but I would love to see Le Petit Palais and Musee d’Orsay.

      kasiawrites
      31 Oct 2020
      4:06pm

      There definitely is so much to see in Paris! Both Le Petit Palais and Musee d’Orsay are fabulous. I would love to go back and check them out again!

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