Choosing the top 10 museums in Paris requires quite a lot of thought. There are some 200 museums in the city, many of them in buildings that are pieces of art all on their own. Paris has an astonishing collection of art on offer at all of these museums, from all over the world, and from every era. Whether you enjoy paintings or sculptures, modern art or medieval tapestries, you are sure to find a museum that suits your taste. Some of the most famous art in the world is in Paris, including da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Monet’s Waterlilies, Renoir’s Ball at the Moulin de la Galette, and Degas’ ballerinas. Read on to find your favorite, or plan to visit all of them while you are in Paris.
10. Carnavalet Museum
The Carnavalet Museum is focused on the history of the city of Paris. Housed in two mansions, the museum was opened in 1880 and is filled to overflowing with artifacts and art showing the city’s rise from the settlement of Gallo-Roman Lutetia to the Paris we know today. As you wander the rooms you might run across a mammoth tooth, a Neolithic dugout canoe, a 4th century perfume bottle, a stone Merovingian sarcophagus, Napoleon’s death mask, or an early 19th century gold toy carriage and horses.
9. L’Orangerie Museum
L’Orangerie is dedicated to the impressionist and post-impressionist periods. Located in the Tuileries Gardens in the Place de la Concorde, the building was originally built in 1852 to shelter the orange trees in the Tuileries Palace gardens. In 1922 when Monet donated his Waterlilies paintings to the State, it was decided that they should be housed in the building. Monet assisted in the design of the gallery, wanting them displayed with diffused natural light. The eight panels were housed in 2 rooms in the museum in 1927, one year after his death. The museum also contains works by Matisse, Renoir, and other Impressionist and Ecole de Paris artists.
8. Quai Branly Museum
The Quai Branly Museum opened in 2006 to showcase the indigenous art of Asia, Oceania, Africa, and the Americas. Gathering pieces from several other museums together, the collection numbers in the thousands. The museum is housed in 4 buildings on the Seine near the Eiffel Tower. The facade of the main building has been turned into a vertical garden, covered in ferns, moss, and flowers.
7. Marmottan Museum
The Marmottan Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Claude Monet’s paintings. Focused on impressionism, it also has works by Renoir, Manet, Degas, Gauguin, and Sisley. Many of the paintings were donated to the museum by Monet’s friends and family members. The museum also houses a collection of French and Italian Illuminations from the 15th and 16th centuries.
6. Cluny Museum
The Museum of Medieval Art at Cluny is in the house of the abbots of Cluny, which was built in the late 1400s on the remains of a 3rd century Gallo-Roman bath. You can tour the remains of the bath with their classic Roman walls of stone and brick. The collection at the museum includes the five famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries which date from around 1500. Also on display are early medieval sculptures and enamels, and the decapitated heads of the statues of the Kings of Judah from Notre Dame cathedral (removed during the French Revolution).