Museums in Paris
by David Applefield
This newly elaborated section of Paris Inside Out was penned by Sandra Kwock-Silve, Paris art critic, historian, hula dancer, and president of the Hawaii Association in Paris. She has curated numerous art exhibitions in France; and her articles appear regularly in the Paris Free Voice and various art publications including Raw Vision.
Since the late 18th century when the Louvre was first opened to the public, this world-famous museum has ranked high on most visitors´ lists of "things to see in Paris." Recent renovations, coupled with I. M. Pei´s impressive glass pyramid have given the Louvre a more contemporary look. Parisians and visitors from around the world flocked in record numbers to the grand inauguration ceremonies in December 1993 of the "New Louvre," the Richelieu wing of the palace, which was the former home to the Department of Finance offices (now at Bercy), which has now been incorporated into the museum as a whole. its renovation has allowed a further 12000 works to be shown, including French sculpture, oriental, and Islamic antiquities, medieval and rennaissance objects, and French, Flemish, German, and Dutch paintings from the 14th to 17th centuries. For the adventurous spirits, however, classic art museums like the Musée du Louvre and the Musée d´Orsay should suggest only the beginning of a serious museum sampling.
There are nearly one hundred museums to discover in and around Paris. Prestigious private and public collections highlight just about every subject imaginable. There are serious museums devoted to the history of wine, fashion, new technology and the arts from every era, country and culture. Something is sure to capture your interest in Paris´ rich museum world, whether it´s a glimpse of the future at La Villette, or an afternoon stroll through the sculpture garden at the Musée Rodin. Visits to the artist´s studios will take you to some interesting neighborhoods off the beaten tourist track. And the city´s eccentric collection of counterfeits, locks, and spectacles (to name but a few) will keep you exploring.
Major museum exhibitions are an important part of the Paris art scene all year round. The weekly publications Pariscope and Officiel des Spectacles have extensive museum and gallery listings of current exhibits. For historical information, the Michelin guide to Paris and the Hachette "guide bleu " are considered the best sources available.
Consider going on a museum spree with the Carte des musées et monuments. This special pass allows unlimited access to over 60 museums and monuments without having to wait in line for tickets. Card prices range from 70 FF for one day to 200 FF for a five day period. Cards can be bought at the tourist office (121, av Champs Elysées), métro stations or Museums. Some museums are free, or half price on Sundays. Check for interesting student/teacher rates. Teachers are usually free. As a general rule, national museums are open 9h45 -17h00 every day except Tuesday. Municipal museums keep the same hours, but are closed on Monday. Many museums are closed on public holidays, and smaller collections may close during the the month of August.