Paris Museums and Galleries
Place Georges-Pompidou, 4th
This postmodern building revolutionized the world of architecture—and turned the rarified concept of a museum into something that could be unintimidating and fun. Designed by Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, and Gianfrancho Franchini, the Centre Pompidou is marked by an exterior lined with colorful tubes that hold the center's plumbing, electric, and circulation systems—inside, it's just as interactive. Home to a public library, a center for music and acoustic research, and the Musee National d’Art Moderne, since its inception in 1977 some of the most important modern art in the world has graced its walls, including pieces from Dali, Pollock, Warhol, and Picasso.
Château de Versailles
Place d'Armes, Versailles
Located on the Western edge of Paris, which requires a brief train trip or drive, Louis XIV's over-the-top pleasure palace is so ridiculously ornate, you'll want to get dressed up for the occasion, if only because every surface is reflective, from the gilded mirrors to the glittery chandeliers. The gardens are just as impressive as the palace, and, in the summer, offers train rides, rowing, and biking. Don’t miss the Petit Trianon, which were Marie Antoinette’s private quarters. Photograph by Thomas Garnier
Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain
261 Boulevard Raspail, 14th
The Foundation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, situated in a Jean Nouvel-designed glass building and fronted by a soaring garden wall, houses an important—and growing—contemporary art collection. Don’t miss their Nomadic Nights, when the Foundation invites contemporary artists to host evenings of concerts, screenings, lectures, and performances.
Fondation Louis Vuitton
8 Ave du Mahatma Gandhi, Bois de Boulogne, 16th
Located in the Bois de Boulogne, Frank Gehry’s gleaming, some say boat-like structure for the Fondation Louis Vuitton is the latest gem to dot the Parisian architectural landscape. Though Bernard Arnault’s foundation opened late last year to much ado—mostly because of its splashy glass construction—it’s really only now that you get to see the collection. Currently, "The Keys to a Passion," packs a punch with major works of art by Edward Munch, Constantin Brancusi, and Matisse on loan from major institutions around the world. Since opening, the museum has been slowly revealing more of Arnault’s own collection—including contemporary works by Tacita Dean, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Bas Jan Ader—the third stage of which opens next month. The staged reveal makes a welcome excuse to return again and again. Photo: Iwan Baan. Courtesy Fondation Louis Vuitton.
Galerie Chantal Crousel
10 Rue Charlot, 3rd
This is Chantal Crousel's second location, offering the same reliably excellent mix of emerging and established artists from the contemporary art scene: In the past, she's exhibited talents like Cindy Sherman, Jenny Holzer, Sophie Calle, and Richard Prince.
Galerie Chez Valentin
9 Rue Saint-Gilles, 3rd
Chez Valentin may be small in size, but it's big on ambition: The contemporary artwork here always pushes the envelope in the most compelling way.
Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin
76 Rue de Turenne, 3rd
Best known for giving Damien Hirst his first solo show in 1991, Galerie Perrotin trailblazed in the Asian art market (they also gave Takashi Murakami his first exhibition outside of Japan). Over the intervening years, Galerie Perrotin's pace hasn't dwindled: They continue to launch up-and-coming artists from around the globe.
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
7 Rue Debelleyme, 3rd
Thaddaeus Ropac opened his first gallery in Salzburg when he was only 23, followed by an outpost in Paris seven years later. He represents a host of international talents (including Anselm Keifer), and is known for ambitious exhibitions and plenty of guest star curators (Sofia Coppola recently lent a hand). Thaddaeus Ropac just opened a new space in the Paris suburb of Pantin, which easily justifies a trip for collectors.
La Gaîté Lyrique
3 Bis Rue Papin, 3rd
In a wildly compelling juxtaposition, this museum pairs electronic music and digital arts with the facade of an original 19th-century theatre. While the exhibitions are great, try to catch a concert here—and cap it off with a cocktail at the bar.
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
5 Rue de Fourcy, 4th
While the work of photographers like Helmut Newton might hypothetically seem too stark and modern for this rambling and elegant 18th century mansion, it's a combination that totally works: Beyond an impressive permanent collection, this museum always lands the exhibitions everyone is talking about, whether it's Shirin Neshat, Henri Cartier-Bresson, or Sebastião Salgado. Keep in mind that they're closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
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