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Free Paris Museums

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Paris prides itself not only on its rich artistic legacy, but also on the principle that art and culture should be accessible to everyone. Not surprising, then, that the city counts over fifteen museums whose permanent collections can be enjoyed entirely free of charge.

Also See: Top Ten Paris Museums

Musée Carnavalet - Museum of Paris History

©2006 Nelson Minar. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons license.
The Musée Carnavalet's fascinating permanent collection is a must for both history buffs and those interested in learning about Paris' complex history. The collection gives a vivid, visually engaging account of he the city's history, from its foundings to the present day. The museum is housed in a stunning Renaissance-era building, the Hotel Carnavalet, in Paris' lively and elegant Marais district.

Musee d'art moderne de la ville de Paris (Paris Modern Art Museum)

The Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
2009 Karl Blackwell. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.

The sprawling modern art museum of the city of Paris houses over 8,000 works of contemporary art and is located at the Palais de Tokyo. After viewing the permanent collection, sip a coffee on the outdoor terrace, which offers a dramatic view of the Eiffel Tower

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Le Petit Palais - Paris Fine Arts Museum

©2006 Claude Cf. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.
The completely-renovated Petit Palais, situated near the prestigious Champs-Elysées, houses 1300 works from the antiquity through the early 20th century, featuring masterpieces by Courbet, Cezanne, Monet, and Delacroix. Temporary collections are free for visitors under the age of 13.

Maison de Balzac

Balzac's reconstituted study at the Maison Balzac.
2008 Interzone00. Some rights reserved under Creative Commons.

One of three municipal Paris museums dedicated to literature, the Maison de Balzac honors the celebrated author of The Human Comedy. Honoré de Balzac lived in this house in the mid-19th century, and it now serves as a tribute to his works and era.

Musée Bourdelle

The garden at the Musee Bourdelle.
2009 Dalbera. Some rights reserved under Creative Commons license.

Underappreciated sculptor Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, who frequented Rodin and trained fellow sculptors Giacommetti and Germaine Richier, once lived and worked in this residence, which now houses a remarkable collection of the artist's bronze, marble, and plaster works. The museum was extended in 1992.

Mémorial Leclerc - Musée Jean Moulin

French Resistance leader Jean Moulin, 1941
Keystone/Hulton Archive (Getty Images)
The most recent of Paris' municipal museums, the Leclerc Memorial/ Musée Jean Moulin was inaugurated in 1994 as a tribute to two key figures of the French resistance against Nazi occupation during WWII, Marshall Leclerc and Jean Moulin. The museum renders this dark period in French history accessible to visitors via chronological images, extensive archives and multimedia presentations. The occupation and liberation of Paris are reconstituted in vivid images.

Maison Victor Hugo - Victor Hugo Residence

©2007 Joel Pk. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.

Situated in a corner of the stately Place des Vosges, The Maison Victor Hugo celebrates the life and times of the 19th-century novelist, poetic and political thinker who dreamed up The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables.

Musée Cernuschi - Paris Asian Arts Museum

The 18th century Buddha de Meduro, a Japanese bronze.
2010 Dalbera. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons license.
Late 19th-century art collector donated his extensive collection of Chinese art to the city of Paris at the turn of the 20th century. The museum's permanent collection features ancient Chinese pottery, bronzes, buddhist artifacts, in addition to an important collection of 20th century Chinese painting.

Musée de la Vie Romantique (Museum of Romantic Life)

©2007 Fred Parnassac. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.
A tribute to the ideas and life of romantic-era French writer, political thinker and libertine George Sand, this quaint museum is housed in a 19th century residence that once served as an artist's studio. The permanent exhibit is free; temporary shows are accessible for a small charge.

Musée Zadkine

The sculpture garden at the Musee Zadkine.
2008 Titou.net. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.
This museum in south Paris gives tribute to lesser-known sculptor Ossip Zadkine, in a verdant garden setting. Sculpture fans will appreciate this unique spot, which is off the typical tourist trail.

Musée Cognacq-Jay

This small, intimate museum houses what was once the private collection of French business mogul Ernest Cognacq-Jay. The museum features notable paintings and sculpture by such artists as Fragonard and Lemoyne, in addition to a collection of antique furniture and decorative art.

Paris Police Museum (Musée de la Préfecture)

This little-known gem in a quiet corner of the Latin Quarter will sate the curiosity of history and crime buffs. The museum boasts over 2,000 artifacts related to crime and police history, including uniforms, photographs, weaponry, and more. The rooms dedicated to the French Revolution and the Occupation and Liberation of Paris during World War II are especially fascinating.

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