During the years I lived in France, I made frequent visits
to the City of Lights. Each time I stayed there, I discovered a new museum.
From natural history to contemporary art, Paris is home to world-class museums
that hold a multitude of treasures. Most tourists know about the Louvre and the
Musée d’Orsay – two true Parisian institutions. However, if you dig a little
bit deeper, you’ll find there are many other fascinating museums to visit as
well. Here is a short guide to five of my personal favorites.
Located in the former home and studio space of the Romantic painter Eugène
Delacroix, the Musée National Eugène Delacroix houses a permanent collection of
sketches, lithographs and paintings by Delacroix and his contemporaries. The
collection also features personal artifacts of Delacroix, including objects the
artist collected during his trip to Morocco in 1832 (an impressive array of caftans,
djellabas, jewelry, sabers, cushions, slippers, boots and ceramics).
Founded in 1980, the Arab World
Institute is an organization committed to researching and disseminating
information about the history and culture of the Arab world. Paris’s
Arab Institute was designed by famed architect Jean Nouvel, and is part museum,
part boutique, part research library, part performance venue. The museum houses
historical and decorative objects from various parts of the Arab world,
including stunning tile mosaics, antique books, and ornamental vessels.
Paris’s premier modern and contemporary art center, Centre national
d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou, opened in 1977. It is named after
President Pompidou, since he spearheaded and wholeheartedly supported the
project. Throughout the past four decades, the Pompidou has served as a
showcase for visual artists, musicians, playwrights, novelists, spoken word
artists, performance artists, and choreographers. The Centre Pompidou houses
the most prestigious and diverse collection of modern and contemporary art in
Europe, as well as a large public reference library, cinema and performance
halls, a music research institute, educational activity areas, bookshops, a
restaurant and a café.
Jardin des Plantes, Paris’ impressive botanical garden, is comprised of La Ménagerie (zoo), acres of flora, and the Musée
National d’Histoire Naturelle (natural history museum). The museum contains a
variety of galleries with exhibitions dedicated to evolution, mineralogy,
biology, and human development (among other topics). It is housed in an
incredibly beautiful 17th century palace.
Few things are more quintessentially French than fine
perfume. Fragonard, one of France’s premier perfumeries, has a museum in Paris
where you can learn all about the history and science/art of perfume making. It
is located near the Opéra Garnier in a beautiful Napoleon III era house built
in 1860. The mansion houses a captivating collection of perfumery objects
spanning several centuries, as well as information about the history of