Like everything good in life, Paris museums are seasonal, and summer tends to be a little slow. With the Pompidou having just closed an excellent and controversial exhibition on Le Corbusier and the Grand Palais’ comprehensive Velásquez show folding a few weeks ago, here’s what you’ve still got time to catch if you’re headed over in August.
Jeanne Lanvin at the Palais Galliera
This is the kind of show that the city’s official fashion museum was created for. To celebrate its 125th anniversary last year, Lanvin, Paris’s oldest continually operating couture house, scoured the archives to amass a broad-ranging exhibition of the life and work of its founder. The first ever show in Paris dedicated to the label features a wealth of dresses, especially from the 1920s and 1930s, as well as sketches and personal photographs (closes August 23).
Napoleon and Paris at the Musée Carnavalet
Nowhere else in the country demonstrates the influence of the onetime Emperor’s influence as much as Paris. Though it was his son, Napoleon III, who commissioned the radical urban planning makeover that gave the city its look today, Napoleon père’s grand ambitions for the capital inspired him. Among his architectural achievements were the neo-classical Palais de la Bourse, the Vendôme column, and of course both Arcs de Triomphe, including the massive one at the Place de l’Étoile. (Does anything encapsulate the tiny man with big bellicosity more than that shrine to the military?) Then there were the failures, some of them silly, like an enormous, elephant-topped fountain on the Place de la Bastille. This exhibition—with more than 100 engravings, paintings by Lefèvre, Casanova and Fontaine, and a handful of costumes—staged by the stunning museum dedicated to Paris itself, says “dream big or go home” (closes August 30).
Le Coffre à Jouer at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs
The title of the exhibition translates to “toy box,” which is not a bad way to see the museum as a whole, dedicated as it is to artisanal skill. For this show, they brought out more than 300 toys—from 18th century dice games to 1930s dioramas to 1990s Barbie and beyond—and displayed them at a scale that make adult visitors feel like children again. For the actual young ones, there is a special play space with re-released editions of classic board games (closes August 30).
Alexandra Marshall is a contributing editor and the Paris correspondent at Travel & Leisure. Food, design, architecture and fashion are her specialties, which means, living in Paris, that she is very busy. Follow her on Twitter and on Instagram.
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