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’s our guide to nine amazing museums in Paris.
Musée Histoire de Paris Carnavalet
The Musée Carnavalet collection is spread across two opulent mansions in the Marais district. The exhibitions recount the history of Paris and include many important works by French artists. Furniture, coins, photographs, ancient artifacts, and even historical marketing posters are also on display. If you start planning your next trip in advance, book now, pay later, and explore the Musée Carnavalet on a nice day so you can also check out the garden maze outside.
Musée National Eugène Delacroix
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).
Institut du Monde Arabe
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 Pompidou, opened in 1977. It’s named after former President Georges 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, theater, and performance halls, a music research institute, educational activity areas, bookshops, a restaurant, and a café.
The Palace of Versailles
Just outside of Paris sits the Palace of Versailles, the passion project of Sun King Louis XIV. Versailles started its architectural life as a hunting lodge and was transformed into an ornate palace. From 1682 until the 1789 revolution, Versailles served as the French monarchy’s primary royal residence. Today, it’s one of the most famous museums in Paris and is open to the public as well as a must-see for travelers making their way through France. The furniture, Hall of Mirrors, and artwork are all breathtaking — as are the elaborate gardens and sculpture fountains in the back.
Jardin des Plante
Jardin des Plantes, Paris’ impressive botanical garden, is comprised of La Ménagerie (the zoo), acres of flora, and the Muséum Nal Hist Naturelle (the Natural History Museum). The museum contains a
variety of galleries with exhibitions dedicated to evolution, mineralogy, biology, and human development (among other topics). It’s housed in an incredibly beautiful 17th-century palace.
The Atelier de Lumières
View this post on Instagram
In 2018, The Atelier des Lumières, or The Workshop of Lights in English, became the newest museum in the 11th arrondissement. An innovative digital arts center with 120 video projectors and 50 audio speakers, The Atelier des Lumières occupies a former smelting plant and introduces visitors to new ways of viewing and experiencing art. Instead of original paintings, guests are treated to multimedia presentations that explore the works of great artists and artistic periods throughout history. Past exhibits have focused on Gustav Klimt, Vincent Van Gogh, and the Japanese decorative aesthetic.
Musée de la Magie
Located in the Marais district, the Museum of Curiosity and Magic is a fun spot for anybody — child or adult — who loves illusions and tricks. Many of the exhibits are interactive, and the artifact collection includes items owned by Harry Houdini. Try to catch one of the live shows. They’re in French, but even if you don’t speak the language, the magic is sure to mesmerize.
Parc de Belleville
Parc de Belleville is one of the largest parks in Paris, located in the 20th arrondissement. The 108-meter green space has several features, including a wooden playground, ping pong tables, and an open-air theater. It’s also home to a pavilion called the Belvédère. Not a museum in the traditional sense, the Belvédère is an outdoor celebration of art decorated with colorful murals and impressive street art. After considering the pieces at the Belvédère, head over to the gardens and check out Mother Nature’s work. Pack a picnic and stay all day.
Did we leave out any amazing museums in Paris? Let us know in the comments below!