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Best Museums in Paris

By: Cityseeker
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Centre Pompidou

A gem of the beloved Beaubourg neighborhood, this distinctive building complex was commissioned in 1968 by then-president George Pompidou. Parisians were initially shocked by its unconventional architecture and 'inside out' aesthetic when it officially opened in 1977. Functional details like air conditioning units, escalators, and elevators are all on display outside the Centre Pompidou to ensure a spacious, uncluttered interior. The complex was always intended to celebrate the arts, and today, it houses such important attractions as the Musée National d'Art Moderne and Brancusi Atelier, as well as a massive library, cinema, and any number of temporary exhibitions.

Paris, France
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Musée National du Moyen Âge (Musée de Cluny)

The Cluny National Museum of the Middle Ages is located near the famous Sorbonne University and is one of the best examples of 15th-century architecture. The museum showcases armor, chests, ivories, mirrors and hangings which were gathered by Alexandre du Sommerard to portray the Medieval ages and the Renaissance. There is a whole room depicting the most amazing pieces of art from the 16th Century, such as Dutch tapestries full of flowers and birds, a woman spinning while a cat plays with the end of the thread and a pretty woman in her bath, overflowing into a duck pond. But the best exhibit is that of 'The Lady with the Unicorn' tapestry, which features six inscrutable scenes of a beautiful woman flanked by a lion and a unicorn.

Paris, France
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Musée Picasso Paris

Born in Spain, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) settled in France after fleeing from Franco's régime. Even though he rarely returned to his native country, most of his paintings reflect his Andalusian origins. On the painter's death, his descendants left many of his works to the French state to pay for death duties. It is partly thanks to these works that the museum was founded in the Hôtel Salé, originally designed by the architect Jean Boullier in 1656 for Aubert Fontenay, a collector specializing in the salt tax. Inside the museum, visitors follow the style changes of the great master and admire the creations from his blue, pink and cubist periods.

Paris, France
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Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum houses one of the largest collections of artwork and antiquities in the world. The museum is located inside the Louvre Palace, which was constructed in the 12th Century as a fortress by Philip II. After Louis XIV decided to move his court to Versailles, the palace was occupied by a variety of institutions related to the arts. The museum was first opened under the National Assembly in 1793. The establishment is separated into sections, including drawing, painting and sculpture, and houses antiquities from Egypt, Rome, Greece, and several other cultures. Visitors to the museum can explore its many wings and see famous works like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Liberty Leading the People.

Paris, France
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Museum of Decorative Arts

This splendid museum now has a few rooms dedicated to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and some jewelry. The collections mostly focus on religious art and the representation of bourgeois lifestyle from the 13th to the 16th Century; for example, a reproduction of an ornate Gothic bedroom, furnished with tapestries and grand furniture as well as a Renaissance-style room, decorated in imitation marble. The latter very closely depicts life in France and Italy in the 15th Century. To make the visit more enjoyable, there is a library and a shop at your disposal.

Paris, France
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Musée d'Orsay

Nearly 2.5 million visitors each year come to see Musée d'Orsay's mammoth collection of French art. The building itself, called the Gare d'Orsay, was built as a railway station in 1900; the principal gallery of the ground floor, 138 meters long (453 feet) and 32 meters tall (105 feet), is a reminder of the building's history. Among the masterpieces in this gallery are the scandalous Enterrement à Ornans by Gustave Courbet and the Glaneuses by Jean-François Millet. Fans of impressionism should head directly up to the fifth floor, where works by the greatest masters of this genre can be found.

Paris, France
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Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain

The glass and steel building, designed by the architect Jean Nouvel, that houses the Foundation Cartier, accurately reflects the specific concept of this museum. Created in 1984, this Foundation helps contemporary artists by promoting their works and exhibits a variety of works from paintings to videos to sculptures. The famous fashion designer Issey Myiake, whose work has sometimes been controversial, is one of the great names exhibited.

Paris, France
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Espace Dalí

This underground museum, circled by black walls and dramatic lighting, presents relatively little known sculptures and engravings of Salvador Dalí's late work. Espace Dalí is the only museum in France showcasing a permanent exhibition of the surrealist master's work. Come here to discover the amazing bronzes illustrating some of the main masterpieces of western literature, like Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet and the Bible. Experience the world of the artist while strolling through the sculptures. Don't miss the Soft Watches or the Melting Snails, both dating from the 1970s and mirroring the artist's obsession for the fantastic and bizarre.

Paris, France
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Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

The Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris opened its doors for the first time in 1937. Since then, the museum has been dedicated to modern art (from the 1960s on). Its permanent exhibition, which is free, houses over 8000 works, among them you will find Picasso, Braque, Picabia, Delaunay, Klein and many others. The Musée d'Art Moderne is situated in the left wing of the Palais de Tokyo, an Art Deco-styled building, which is also an art hub not to be missed! Temporary exhibitions run every six weeks with nominal admission fees. There is also a café, bookshop and various concerts that take place here.

Paris, France
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Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie

Parc de la Villette is the setting for this huge science museum best known for its Géode dome and impressive 180-degree cinema. Natural and scientific phenomena are explained with the help of exhibitions in an area specially designed with kids in mind. Children aged three and over can visit a real submarine, the Argonaute, and find out how it works; temporary exhibitions are organized in Espace Explora.

Paris, France
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Musée de la Contrefaçon

Rare is the discerning consumer who has never been confronted to counterfeit. A convincing explanation for this fact is the abundance of fake goods available on the market. The Musée de la Contrefaçon gives visitors the opportunity to train their eye and practice their judgment by comparing originals and copies displayed here side by side. More than 350 items are exhibited: toys, pens, clothes, tools, toiletries, luxury goods,etc. The exhibits demonstrate the extent industries are affected by counterfeit. Founded in 1951, a manufacturers' association fighting this phenomenon, reminds us of a war which started with the creation of the first designer labels. In this museum, you will recognize products you use and might even realize that you have bought fakes in the past. However, after this visit, there will be no excuse!

Paris, France
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Musée Albert-Kahn

Situated just west of the Bois de Boulogne, Musée Albert-Kahn possesses one of the richest archives of early true-color photographs in the world. The former estate and collection of 20th Century banker and world traveler Albert Kahn became a museum in 1986, undergoing major renovations in 1990 and 2006. Rotating exhibitions of the color photographs Kahn had commissioned for his Archive of the Planet from 1909 to 1931 provide exciting glimpses into early 20th century life in many parts of the world. His love of travel and other cultures is also manifest in the themed gardens, where one can stroll through a forest of the Vosges, a Japanese village, a prairie, or an English garden, to name a few corners.

Boulogne-Billancourt, France
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