5. Petit Palais
The Petit Palais was built for the Universal Exhibition in 1900. The museum houses an interesting collection of art ranging from classic Greece up to the 1st World War. The building was designed in the Beaux-Arts style by architect Charles Girault, and has a collection of Belle Epoque jewelry by Lalique and Galle and furniture by Hector Guimard. The building is lit entirely by natural light and surrounds a beautiful garden. You will find works here by Carpeaux, Cezanne, and Rembrandt.
4. Rodin Museum
The Rodin Museum is in the mansion where Rodin lived out the last years of his life. He donated his own sculptures as well as his collected works by Van Gogh and Renoir to the State on the condition that they turn the buildings into a museum to display his works. His most famous sculptures – The Thinker, The Kiss, and The Gates of Hell are on display here, either inside or out in the gardens. You can see many of his drawings and studies as well, and trace his progression as an artist over the years.
3. Georges Pompidou Center
The Georges Pompidou Center is a colorful, modern building built in 1977 to house the Museum of Modern Art. In the high-tech architecture style, the building has exposed colorful pipes on the outside which contain the building’s infrastructure, leaving the inside of the building free of distraction. In front of the museum is a plaza that frequently has street performers and a mini carnival. At any time, some 600 works are on display, but the collection numbers in the tens of thousands. Some of the famous artists on display include Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Dali, Pollock, and Warhol.
2. Musee d’Orsay
The Musee d’Orsay is located in the former Orsay train station on the banks of the Seine, which was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition. The museum focuses on works of art from 1848 to 1914, spanning the impressionist, post-impressionist, and art nouveau movements. Some of the highlights include Cézanne’s card players, Monet’s gardens at Giverny, Toulouse-Lautrec’s cabaret dancers, Renoir’s Ball at the Moulin de la Galette, Degas’ ballerinas, and Van Gogh’s self-portraits.
1. The Louvre
Of course, the Louvre holds pride of place in any discussion of the best museums of Paris. The building started life as a fortress for Phillip II in the 12th century, and its current structure dates mostly from the 1500s when it was the Louvre Palace and residence of kings. The structure continued to develop through the centuries to become the museum that was opened in 1793. The glass pyramid in the center of the courtyard was designed by famed architect I.M. Pei and finished in 1993. The museum sees 15,000 visitors a day, making it the most visited museum in the world, as well as one of the largest. It holds more than 380,000 objects, of which as many as 35,000 are on display at any given time. The collection is divided into eight departments, each with its own curator. The most famous artwork at the Louvre includes, of course, da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Marly horses, the statue of Nike of Samothrace, The Seated Scribe from Saqqara, Venus de Milo, Géricault’s Raft of Medusa, and many other masterworks. It is no surprise that the Louvre takes the #1 spot on our Top 10 list.