Museums & Art Galleries of Paris & Île-de-France

Guide to the Best Museums & Art Galleries in Paris & Île-de-France

With over 130 museums in the greater Paris region, choosing which ones to visit takes a bit of planning. Generic lists of ‘must see museums’, or X’s top 30 recommendations often only have a limited value as they are created for broad appeal. Our list of museums and art galleries in Paris attempts to order the various institutions thematically. Any attempt to group disparate museums is going to be problematic, but the following thematic groupings do have some value in showing what is there for you to visit. And obviously then, some museums are listed more than once.

Comparing the Paris Pass with the Paris Museum Pass

There are two passes worth considering if you are visiting Paris. Particularly if travelling on a budget. These are the Paris Museum Pass and the Paris Pass. Both of these can be bought online in advance. But whcih one should you get? Here the two passes are explained, with tips on how to choose between the two. … Continue Reading >>

Thomas Dowson

Archaeology Travel

Beat the queues at the Louvre in Paris with a Museum Pass.

Skip queues at the Louvre with a Paris Pass.

World Cultures, Anthropology & Ethnography Museums

Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration – a museum set up in 1989 that explores the history and culture of immigration from the 19th century.

Musée Guimet – also Musée national des arts asiatiques, one of the largest collections of Asian art outside Asia. The collection also includes ancient Egyptian objects.

Institut du Monde Arabe – a collection of objects and artefacts from around the Arab world from before Islam to the 20th century. Permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Musée de l’Homme – the ‘museum of man’ that aims to explore what it is to be a human being, from evolution, to diversity and cultural and social expression.

Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac – the collections hold over 370,000 objects from Africa, the Near East, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, of which about 3,500 are on display with 500 of these being rotated annually.

Archaeology Museums

Cabinet des Médailles – includes coins and medals from the Iron Age in France, and other ancient and Medieval hoards, as well as antiquities from the Mediterranean and the Near East.

Musée de l’Homme – located in the Trocadéro and part of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, this section of the museum covers human evolution.

Musée d’art et d’histoire de Saint-Denis – in a cloister of a 17th century Carmelite abbey the history of the Carmelites, the Paris Commune and artefacts (Gallo-Roman, Medieval and Industrial) found in and around the nearby Basilique Saint-Denis.

Musée Carnavalet – some 500,000 objects tell the story of Paris’s past. Some of the oldest artefacts are the Neolithic canoes excavated near the banks of the Seine River. The archaeological collections include many Gallo Roman artefacts from around Paris. The museum is closed until early 2020 for renovation.

Musée de Cluny – also the Musée national du Moyen Âge (National Museum of the Middles Ages), the museum houses one of the finest collections of Middle Age art in Europe. The highlight of the collection is the series of 16th century tapestries called ‘The Lady and the Unicorn’. As the museum is part in the Thermes de Cluny, the frigidarium also houses Gallo-Roman sculptures.

Petit Palais – also the Musée des beaux-arts de la ville de Paris (Paris’s fine arts museum), the museum has a good exhibition of Classical Greek and Roman art.

Musée d’Archéologie Nationale – the national museum of archaeology, with an extraordinary collection of artefacts from the best and well known archaeological sites around France, covering prehistory to the Merovingians.

Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac – although principally an ethnographic museum, the collections from non-European civilisations range from the Neolithic period to the 20th century.

History Museums

Cabinet des Médailles – one of the finest collections internationally of coins and medals from all over the world.

Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration – with personal accounts from migrants, interactive displays explore the history of immigration into France since the 19th century.

Musée Carnavalet – in two neighbouring mansions are over 500,000 artefacts covering all aspects of Paris’s past starting 6,000 years ago with wooden canoes. The museum is closed until early 2020 for renovation.

Musée de la Préfecture de Police – with over 2,000 objects on display the museum traces the history of policing and crime in Paris from the 17th century until the present.


Musée Curie – established after Marie Curie’s death in her former laboratory, that tells the history of radiology.

Musée d’histoire de la médecine – part of Paris Descartes University and established in the 18th century, it is one of the oldest museums of medicine in Europe. Besides an impressive collection of medical instruments through the ages, the museum also has a large collection of medical paintings.

Musée Pasteur – housed in the Institut Pasteur, the museum presents the life and work of Louis Pasteur in the apartment he occupied for the last seven years of his life from 1888 to 1895.

Musée du Service de Santé des Armées – established during World War 1, the museum aims to create a greater understanding of the role of medicine in the armed forces of France.

Art Museums & Galleries

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris – the city of Paris’s museum of modern and contemporary art.

Musée Cognacq-Jay – in a beautiful 16th century mansion the collection of Ernest Cognacq, founder of the Samaritaine department stores, is on permanent display: 18th century French fine and decorative art.

Musée Marmottan Monet – over 300 paintings by some of the leading French impressionists and post-impressionists, not just Claude Monet.

Musée National d’Art Moderne – France’s natiional collection of modern art, housed in the Centre Pompidou.

Musée de l’Orangerie – famous for Claude Monet’s large canvases of water lilies, the gallery also has a number of other prominent impressionist and post impressionist artists.

Musée Picasso – with over 5,000 works by Pablo Picasso, this is one of the most comprehensive collections of the artist’s work in the world.

Musée Rodin – Hôtel Biron, one of two museums dedicated to Auguste Rodin, houses some 30,000 art objects, archival material and photographs about the much-loved French artist. The museum has some of his most well known sculptures, including The Thinker, The Kiss, and The Gates of Hell; as well as a room dedicated to the art of Camille Claudell.

Petit Palais – built for the Exposition Universelle, the museum is now the city’s museum of fine art. For the 1900 exhibition, the museum displayed the ‘history of art’, hence the organised collection and permanent exhibitions are varied: Ancient Greek and Roman art, Renaissance art, 17th, 18th and 19th century art, Western and Eastern Christian art.

Science, technology & Natural History

Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie – one of the biggest science museums in Europe promoting science. Main features include a planetarium, a submarine (the Argonaute) and an IMAX theatre. The museum has a number of exhibits specifically created for children.

Musée des Arts et Métiers – the history of technology and industry, based on the collections of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers.

Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle – has 14 locations around France, a number of them are in Paris. These include the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution (Grand Gallery of Evolution), the Galerie de Minéralogie et de Géologie (Mineralogy and Geology), as well as botanical and zoological parcs.

Pierre and Marie Curie University, Mineral Collection – one of the oldest collections of minerals in the world, that began in 1809 as a teaching collection. The collection comprises over 13,000 geological specimens, of which 1500 are on display.

Museums for Children

Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie – one of the biggest science museums in Europe promoting science. Main features include a planetarium, a submarine (the Argonaute) and an IMAX theatre. The museum has a number of exhibits specifically created for children.

Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle – Grande Galerie de l’Évolution has a specific display area for children that looks at the family in nature, with interactive games.

Musée en Herbe – an art museum specifically set up for children.

Musée d'Orsay in the early evening.