Modern and contemporary art museums in Paris

Challenge your perception of art at Paris’s best modern art, contemporary art and photography museums
La Gaîté Lyrique
Amélie Dupont / Paris Tourist Office
By Time Out editors |
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Art galleries aren’t the only places to display cutting-edge art and photography these days: the city’s museums – big and small – offer some startling collections. From hard-hitting photography exhibitions at the Jeu de Paume, to offbeat multi-media installations at the Gaïté Lyrique, and modern art masterpieces at the Centre Pompidou, prepared to be wowed…

Recommended: Contemporary art in the suburbs

The best modern art, contemporary art and photography museums in Paris

Museums, Art and design

The Centre Pompidou

icon-location-pin 4e arrondissement

The primary colours, exposed pipes and air ducts make the Centre Pompidou one of the best-known sights in Paris. The then-unknown Italo-British architectural duo of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers won the competition with their 'inside-out' boilerhouse approach, which put air-conditioning, pipes, lifts and the escalators on the outside, leaving an adaptable space within. The multi-disciplinary concept of modern art museum (the most important in Europe)...

Music, Music venues

La Gaîté Lyrique

icon-location-pin Arts et Métiers

19th-century composer Jacques Offenbach isn’t usually associated with cutting-edge digital art, but after a 10-year revamp, Offenbach’s former Belle Époque Gaïté Lyrique theatre has been turned into Paris’s first ever digital cultural centre - a 7 floor, multidisciplinary concert hall cum gallery that thrusts visitors deep into the realms of digital art, music, graphics, film, fashion, design and video games...

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Espace Claude Berri

icon-location-pin Le Marais

Claude Berri, who died in January 2009, was for many years best known as one of France's most successful film directors and producers - he directed the international arthouse hit Jean de Florette and produced France's second biggest box office success, Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis. But in 2008 the 74-year-old made a name for himself in another field, the world of contemporary art, when he opened the Espace Claude Berri - a showcase for exhibitions by up-and-coming talent...

Museums, Art and design

Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain

icon-location-pin Montparnasse

Jean Nouvel's glass and steel building, an exhibition centre with Cartier's offices above, is as much a work of art as the installations inside. Shows by artists and photographers often have wide-ranging themes, such as 'Birds' or 'Desert'. Live events around the shows are called Nuits Nomades...

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Museums, Art and design

104 (Centquatre)

icon-location-pin 19e arrondissement

It's more than a century since Montmartre was the centre of artistic activity in Paris. But now the north of Paris is again where the action is - albeit a couple of kilometres east of place du Tertre, in a previously neglected area of bleak railway goods yards and dilapidated social housing. 104, described as a 'space for artistic creation', occupies a vast 19th-century building on the rue d'Aubervilliers that used to house Paris's municipal undertakers. The site was saved...

Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Fondation Le Corbusier

icon-location-pin 16e arrondissement

Designed by Le Corbusier in 1923 for a Swiss art collector, this house shows the architect's ideas in practice, with its stilts, strip windows, roof terraces and balconies, built-in furniture and an unsuspected use of colour inside: sludge green, blue and pinky beige.A sculptural cylindrical staircase and split volumes create a variety of geometrical vistas; inside, Le Corbusier's own neo-Cubist paintings and furniture sit alongside pieces by Perriand...

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Museums, Specialist interest

Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP)

icon-location-pin Le Marais

Probably the capital's best photography exhibition space, hosting retrospectives by Larry Clark and Martine Barrat, along with work by emerging photographers. The building, an airy mansion with a modern extension, contains a huge permanent collection. The venue organises the biennial Mois de la Photo and the Art Outsiders festival of new media web art in September...

Museums, Art and design

MAC/VAL

icon-location-pin Paris et sa banlieue

Opened just days after the 2005 banlieue riots ended, this contemporary art museum has earned a fearsome reputation for artistic savvy. Its collection offers a stunning snapshot of French art from 1950 to the present, including installations by Gilles Barbier, Jesús Rafael Soto and Christian Boltanski...

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Museums, Art and design

Palais de Tokyo : Site de Création Contemporaine

icon-location-pin Chaillot

When it opened in 2002, many thought the Palais' stripped-back interior was a design statement. In fact, it was a response to tight finances. The 1937 building has now come into its own as an open-plan space with a skylit central hall, hosting exhibitions and performances. Extended hours and a funky café have drawn a younger audience, and the roll-call of artists is impressive (Pierre Joseph, Wang Du and others)...

Museums

Jeu de Paume

icon-location-pin 1er arrondissement

The Centre National de la Photographie moved into this site in 2005. The building, which once served as a tennis court, has been divided into two white, almost hangar-like galleries. It is not an intimate space, but it works well for showcase retrospectives. A video art and cinema suite in the basement shows new digital installation work, as well as feature-length films made by artists. There's also a sleek café and a decent bookshop. The Jeu de Paume's smaller site is the former...

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