Just walking through the streets of Paris can sometimes make you feel like you’re in the middle of a giant museum overflowing with gobsmacking artifacts and interesting things to ogle around every corner. Indeed reflecting the city’s centuries-long dedication to and immersion in art and culture, Paris counts the highest number of museums in the world—more than 200! And there’s something for everyone: fashion, Asian arts, non-Western art, architecture, decorative arts, advertising, digital culture... and the list goes on. Some of the city’s most important cultural institutions are famous around the world for their richness of their collections, or their unique cultural offerings. Whether you’re checking out the latest video installation at the Palais de Tokyo at 11 p.m. or spending the afternoon among antiquities at the Louvre, the opportunities for cultural enrichment are endless. These top Paris museums are places to lose yourself in, that each hold lifetimes of inspiration.
One the most visited buildings in Europe, the iconic Centre Pompidou, built in the mid-1970s in the heart of the city, looks like some kind of colorful iron lung. Designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, their radical architecture famously placed the structure and services on the building’s exterior. Inside you’ll find the second largest collection of modern and contemporary art in the world, after New York’s MoMA.
Palais de Tokyo
This exceptional arts space has no permanent collection but is an enormous—at over 236,800 square feet, it’s one of the largest contemporary arts space in Europe—forum for an abundance of modern art encounters and experiences. Its opening hours are radical too, noon to midnight every day except Tuesday.
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
In a wing of the Louvre, this museum presents a vast panorama of the decorative arts from the Middle Ages to today via 6,000 objects on permanent display, testament to the French art of living, the savoir-faire of its craftsmen, the creativity of its artists, and the passion of its collectors.
Located inside a grand old train station on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens, this museum is dedicated to Impressionism, the avant-garde art movement centered in France over the period 1848-1914, and houses masterpieces by painters including Cézanne, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh.
Housed in the former French royal palace, the Louvre is one of the world’s largest and most visited museums. Some highlights include the Egyptian antiquities department with its more than 50,000 pieces dating from 4,000 B.C. to the 4th century. Overrun with tourists, it’s worth visiting later in the day on Wednesdays and Fridays, when it stays open until 9:45 p.m.