Paris’s other museums of note

By Lorenz Rychner
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Having grown up in Switzerland, I’ve been to Paris many times over the last 50 years or so, from before the heady days of the student revolts (1968!). There are a number of museums in the city that I seldom see listed in people’s reports but which I’ve found to be worth visiting, so I wanted to tell ITN readers about them.

To begin with, La Mairie de Paris (the mayor’s city administration) maintains 14 museums, many of which seem to be virtually unknown to overseas visitors. From that list, here are three favorites of mine where admission is free.

• Musée Cernuschi — Musée des Arts de l’Asie de la Ville de Paris, or Museum of the Asian Arts of Paris (7 Avenue Vélasquez-F, 75008 Paris, France; phone +33 1 53 96 21 50, www.cernuschi.paris.fr/en/home), is located adjacent to Monceau Park. (Rue Velasquez dead-ends right at the park fence just past the museum.)

Once the founder’s private residence, this typical, old Paris mansion is not huge, but it houses a vast collection of Asian art of all kinds — Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese bronzes, paintings, pottery… You name it! It includes lots of ancient items from early dynasties as far back as the Zhou, from 1050 BC!

Free access to the permanent collections; 8 (near $9) for any temporary exhibit. Open daily (except Mondays and bank holidays) 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Take Métro line 2 or 3 (stop Monceau or Villiers) or Bus 84 (the Ruysdaël-Monceau stop), 94 or 30 (Malesherbes-Courcelles stop). (My last visit was in October 2015.)

• Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (11 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, France; phone +33 1 53 67 40 00, www.mam.paris.fr/en) — a typical large, purpose-built museum building — contains truly modern art, 20th- and 21st-century, from household names like Warhol to many modern artists who only the cognoscenti would know. 

Not to be missed here is Raoul Dufy’s “La Fée Electrique” (“The Electrical Fairy”), a semirounded room with walls fully covered by one huge “surround” painting entirely devoted to the history of energy and, in particular, the human exploitation of electricity. It’s not “scientific” but, rather, supremely artistic.

This large room is quite “old-fashioned” when compared to the rest of the exhibits, and you don’t have to be a “modern-art specialist” to get a kick out of it; it’s not an abstract. Just walking along its walls and deciphering the many intriguing details can take a good while.

Free admission to permanent collections; admission fee for special exhibits. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday and, for exhibitions, until 10 p.m. on Thursday. Closed holidays. Take Métro line 9 to stop Alma Marceau or Iéna or Bus 32, 42, 72, 80, 82 or 92. 

• Musée Bourdelle (18, rue Antoine Bourdelle, 75015 Paris, France; phone +33 1 49 54 73 73, www.bourdelle.paris.fr/en) is the former residence and workshop of sculptor Émile-Antoine Bourdelle, a one-time pupil and assistant of Auguste Rodin.  

Housed in the building where he lived, it’s augmented by an adjacent property that the city purchased to establish this quite substantial museum. The atelier rooms where he worked are left in a state that makes it look like he could return at any moment.

Bourdelle’s sculptures range from small items to huge statues, and there is room for quite a number of them, indoors and outside in a courtyard. It probably took us an hour or more to wander through it all, and we didn’t stop at every exhibit to examine it in detail. 

You’ll see plaster casts, bronzes, marbles and stone and clay works as well as drawings and photographs. I’d call his style a forceful realism. I remember, for example, a huge (and I mean HUGE) horse (he made many) that seemed to just explode with strength and vitality.

Free access. Open daily (except Mondays and some holidays) 10 a.m.-6 p.m. It’s in the Montparnasse area. Take Métro line 4, 6, 12 or 13 to the Montparnasse-Bienvenue/Falguière stop or Bus 28, 48, 58, 88, 89, 91, 92, 94, 95 or 96. (My last visit was in October 2015.)

For info on all 14 of Paris’s municipal museums, visit www.paris.fr/musees.

• I told you about Musée Cernuschi, run by the city of Paris. Operated by the French state, there is another outstanding collection of Asian art which also covers thousands of years and huge geographic areas. It is Musée National des Arts Asiatiques - Guimet, aka, for short, Musée Guimet (6 Place d’Iéna, 75116 Paris, France; phone +33 1 56 52 53 00, www.guimet.fr/en/home)

The Guimet is a huge collection of Asian art contained in a large, traditional building from the 1800s. It features everything from tiny fragments to huge porcelain lions. 

7.50, permanent collections, or 9.50, permanent and temporary exhibitions; free the first Sunday of every month. Open daily (except Tuesday) 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (My last visit was in October 2015.)

• I probably should also mention the Palais de Tokyo (13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, France; phone +33 1 81 97 35 88, www.palaisdetokyo.com/en), since an astounding number of people I have talked to who know Paris well don’t know it. Presenting Japanese art, it’s located right next to the Musée d’Art Moderne.

By the way, between the Palais de Tokyo and the Art Moderne, there is a courtyard with an overlook. The Seine is just down below, and the Pont de l’Alma can be a part of the nice view from there. 

• One place I remember from a visit many years ago is Musée Zadkine (100 bis, rue d’Assas, 75006 Paris, France; phone +33 1 55 42 77 20, www.zadkine.paris.fr/en), the former residence and workshop of sculptor Ossip Zadkine. It displayed wood, stone, clay, plaster, cement and bronze sculptures plus graphic arts, tapestries and photographs.  

Free access to the permanent collections. For occasional temporary exhibits, fees are posted on the website. Open daily (except Mondays and some holidays) 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 

• Lastly, there are the temporary exhibitions at the fabulous François-Mitterrand Library (Quai François Mauriac, 75706 Paris, France; phone +33 1 53 79 59 59), a branch of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France; www.bnf.fr), an impressive modern building near the Bercy train station, on the most modern Métro line 14. 

The exhibitions cannot be lumped into one category; they all vary. For upcoming exhibitions, check the website.

Note: in Paris, strict security is in place at the entrances to many public buildings (including museums), forbidding backpacks, bags considered “suitcases,” motorcycle helmets and more. 

There’s always more to see in Paris!

LORENZ RYCHNER

Denver, CO

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Having grown up in Switzerland, I’ve been to Paris many times over the last 50 years or so, from before the heady days of the student revolts (1968!). There are a number of museums in the city that I seldom see listed in people’s reports but which I’ve found to be worth visiting, so I wanted to tell ITN readers about them.

To begin with, La Mairie de Paris (the mayor’s city administration) maintains 14 museums, many of which seem to be virtually unknown to overseas visitors. From that list, here are three favorites of mine where admission is free.

• Musée Cernuschi — Musée des Arts de l’Asie de la Ville de Paris, or Museum of the Asian Arts of Paris (7 Avenue Vélasquez-F, 75008 Paris, France; phone +33 1 53 96 21 50, www.cernuschi.paris.fr/en/home), is located adjacent to Monceau Park. (Rue Velasquez dead-ends right at the park fence just past the museum.)

Once the founder’s private residence, this typical, old Paris mansion is not huge, but it houses a vast collection of Asian art of all kinds — Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese bronzes, paintings, pottery… You name it! It includes lots of ancient items from early dynasties as far back as the Zhou, from 1050 BC!

Free access to the permanent collections; 8 (near $9) for any temporary exhibit. Open daily (except Mondays and bank holidays) 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Take Métro line 2 or 3 (stop Monceau or Villiers) or Bus 84 (the Ruysdaël-Monceau stop), 94 or 30 (Malesherbes-Courcelles stop). (My last visit was in October 2015.)

• Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (11 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, France; phone +33 1 53 67 40 00, www.mam.paris.fr/en) — a typical large, purpose-built museum building — contains truly modern art, 20th- and 21st-century, from household names like Warhol to many modern artists who only the cognoscenti would know. 

Not to be missed here is Raoul Dufy’s “La Fée Electrique” (“The Electrical Fairy”), a semirounded room with walls fully covered by one huge “surround” painting entirely devoted to the history of energy and, in particular, the human exploitation of electricity. It’s not “scientific” but, rather, supremely artistic.

This large room is quite “old-fashioned” when compared to the rest of the exhibits, and you don’t have to be a “modern-art specialist” to get a kick out of it; it’s not an abstract. Just walking along its walls and deciphering the many intriguing details can take a good while.

Free admission to permanent collections; admission fee for special exhibits. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday and, for exhibitions, until 10 p.m. on Thursday. Closed holidays. Take Métro line 9 to stop Alma Marceau or Iéna or Bus 32, 42, 72, 80, 82 or 92. 

• Musée Bourdelle (18, rue Antoine Bourdelle, 75015 Paris, France; phone +33 1 49 54 73 73, www.bourdelle.paris.fr/en) is the former residence and workshop of sculptor Émile-Antoine Bourdelle, a one-time pupil and assistant of Auguste Rodin.  

Housed in the building where he lived, it’s augmented by an adjacent property that the city purchased to establish this quite substantial museum. The atelier rooms where he worked are left in a state that makes it look like he could return at any moment.

Bourdelle’s sculptures range from small items to huge statues, and there is room for quite a number of them, indoors and outside in a courtyard. It probably took us an hour or more to wander through it all, and we didn’t stop at every exhibit to examine it in detail. 

You’ll see plaster casts, bronzes, marbles and stone and clay works as well as drawings and photographs. I’d call his style a forceful realism. I remember, for example, a huge (and I mean HUGE) horse (he made many) that seemed to just explode with strength and vitality.

Free access. Open daily (except Mondays and some holidays) 10 a.m.-6 p.m. It’s in the Montparnasse area. Take Métro line 4, 6, 12 or 13 to the Montparnasse-Bienvenue/Falguière stop or Bus 28, 48, 58, 88, 89, 91, 92, 94, 95 or 96. (My last visit was in October 2015.)

For info on all 14 of Paris’s municipal museums, visit www.paris.fr/musees.

• I told you about Musée Cernuschi, run by the city of Paris. Operated by the French state, there is another outstanding collection of Asian art which also covers thousands of years and huge geographic areas. It is Musée National des Arts Asiatiques - Guimet, aka, for short, Musée Guimet (6 Place d’Iéna, 75116 Paris, France; phone +33 1 56 52 53 00, www.guimet.fr/en/home)

The Guimet is a huge collection of Asian art contained in a large, traditional building from the 1800s. It features everything from tiny fragments to huge porcelain lions. 

7.50, permanent collections, or 9.50, permanent and temporary exhibitions; free the first Sunday of every month. Open daily (except Tuesday) 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (My last visit was in October 2015.)

• I probably should also mention the Palais de Tokyo (13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, France; phone +33 1 81 97 35 88, www.palaisdetokyo.com/en), since an astounding number of people I have talked to who know Paris well don’t know it. Presenting Japanese art, it’s located right next to the Musée d’Art Moderne.

By the way, between the Palais de Tokyo and the Art Moderne, there is a courtyard with an overlook. The Seine is just down below, and the Pont de l’Alma can be a part of the nice view from there. 

• One place I remember from a visit many years ago is Musée Zadkine (100 bis, rue d’Assas, 75006 Paris, France; phone +33 1 55 42 77 20, www.zadkine.paris.fr/en), the former residence and workshop of sculptor Ossip Zadkine. It displayed wood, stone, clay, plaster, cement and bronze sculptures plus graphic arts, tapestries and photographs.  

Free access to the permanent collections. For occasional temporary exhibits, fees are posted on the website. Open daily (except Mondays and some holidays) 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 

• Lastly, there are the temporary exhibitions at the fabulous François-Mitterrand Library (Quai François Mauriac, 75706 Paris, France; phone +33 1 53 79 59 59), a branch of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (National Library of France; www.bnf.fr), an impressive modern building near the Bercy train station, on the most modern Métro line 14. 

The exhibitions cannot be lumped into one category; they all vary. For upcoming exhibitions, check the website.

Note: in Paris, strict security is in place at the entrances to many public buildings (including museums), forbidding backpacks, bags considered “suitcases,” motorcycle helmets and more. 

There’s always more to see in Paris!

LORENZ RYCHNER

Denver, CO