Paris is certainly not lacking when it comes to museums. With over 150 museums, featuring subjects from modern art to magic, visitors to Paris have their pick. But the appeal of Paris’ museums rests not solely on their content; several museums in Paris are works of art in and of themselves. Read on to discover six of Paris’ most architecturally interesting museums.
Centre Pompidou (Pompidou Center)
The first three floors of this massive museum host France’s national collection of art dating from 1905 to modern times. Pop and contemporary art fill the fourth and fifth floors. But it is Pompidou’s unique design that truly sets it apart. Giant red, blue, and green tubes adorn the façade, giving the impression that the building is inside out. Inside, visitors ride escalators encased by tubing, further adding to the “under construction” effect. As if the building wasn’t cool enough, some of the best views of Paris can be enjoyed from the rooftop terrace.
The Pompidou Center can be reached via subway line 11, getting off at stop Rambuteau.
Fondation Louis Vuitton (Louis Vuitton Foundation)
This contemporary art museum is one of Paris’ newest, having opened in 2015. The frequently-changing expositions means there is always something new to see here. But it is the revolutionary architecture that will most certainly draw visitors in. Designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, the museum is designed to look like billowing sails, an effect that is magnified by the large reflecting pool in front of the museum. Terraces are located on each floor of the museum and afford a clear view of Paris’ skyline, as well as the Bois de Boulogne (Boulogne Woods).
The Louis Vuitton Foundation can be accessed via subway line 1, getting off at stop Les Sablons.
Musée d’Orsay (Orsay Museum)
This museum, which hosts the world’s largest collection of impressionist artwork, is made doubly attractive by its form. During the early to mid-20th century, the building served as a train station. There was also a hotel on the premises to host road-weary travelers. With the advent of modern trains, the station fell out of use. However, the station was revived in the 1970s when construction on the museum began. Today, features from the train station, like large clocks, are perfectly incorporated into the design.
The museum can be reached via Regional Express Railway (RER) line C, getting off at Musée d'Orsay.
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Fondation Cartier (Cartier Foundation)
Fondation Cartier is a contemporary art museum whose design is equally modern. Designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel, the building relies on a heavy usage of glass and reflections to create its streamlined look. The use of glass means that the enormous museum maintains a lightness and airiness. Metal is another fascinating element used in the building’s design. The metal encases the building, giving the impression that the museum is permanently encased in scaffolding.
The Cartier Foundation can be accessed via subway lines 4 or 6, getting off at stop Raspail.
Musée du Quai Branly (Museum of Branly Quai)
This museum, which features art and decorative objects from non-western cultures, is unique in that its design was based on the collection, rather than the inverse. Furthermore, the museum’s founders wanted to create a space without Western influences. The winning design came from Jean Nouvel (who also designed Fondation Cartier). Nouvel’s design uses curved shapes, fluidity, and transparency to emphasize the museum’s cultural bridge-building efforts. Furthermore, the museum’s open-concept design allows visitors to pursue items from various cultures without direction or hierarchy, meaning that all objects are presented as having equal culturally significant value.
The museum can be accessed via Regional Express Railway (RER) line C, getting off at stop Pont de l'Alma.
Institut du Monde Arabe (Arabic Culture Institute)
The Arabic Culture Institute aims to increase understanding of Arabic cultures. It does so through its permanent collection of Arabic art, through concerts, and through monthly guest speakers. In addition, the building of the Arabic Culture Institute is an ode to Arabic tradition. Light is a very important element in Arabic cultures as it represents speech and expression. To highlight this aspect of the culture, the building’s architects designed a building that can adapt itself to changing amounts of light. Its glass and aluminum façade adjusts itself hourly to let in the maximum amount of light. This feature also speaks to the modernity of Arabic cultures. At the same time, traditional Eastern elements are incorporated, such as a tower of books inspired by the tower of Babylon.
The Arabic Culture Institute can be accessed via subway line 10, getting off at stop Cardinal Lemoine.
Tour these museums and be amazed by their beauty
Each of these museums is one-of-a-kind beauty. From classic to postmodern, each of these designs is perfectly adapted to the collection found inside. If you’re only visiting Paris for a short time, make sure it visit at least one of these museums. However, if you have some time on your hands, certainly make an effort to see all six.
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