The history of the Impressionist movement is fascinating, and the best way to learn about it is to see the artwork in person. If you are in the French capital, you are in luck!
The Impressionist museums in Paris house some of the world’s most famous paintings and works of this movement.
In this article, we will take a look at the 5 best impressionist art museums in Paris.
But first, we will look at a brief history of the impressionist movement to better appreciate the works you will see in Paris.
Let’s get to it!
Brief History of the Impressionist Movement in Paris
During the second half of the 19th century, the idea of recovering their artistic independence began to take shape among a group of painters.
In a series of meetings, these painters decided to eliminate the strict codes set by the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture at that time.
Consequently, they began meeting in private workshops to create freely while respecting their ideas.
You may also be interested in visiting the Museums of the 16th arrondissement of Paris.
“I paint what I see and not what others want to see,” said Manet, summing up the spirit of the Impressionist movement.
The Impressionist movement in Paris was one of the most influential periods in the history of Western art. It is a movement that consists of a new representation of reality.
Instead of painting a tangible object, the idea was to capture a moment in time. This was undoubtedly a radical idea for the 19th century and a milestone in the art of the time.
As was to be expected, the reaction to the Impressionist movement at the time was very negative.
The official salons refused to exhibit his works, they received harsh criticism from the press, and the public accepted with difficulty this new style of painting, which was too modern and far from classical references.
And yet, the Impressionists’ work knew how to make a place for itself and has had a lasting impact on the art world today.
Some of the most renowned impressionist painters are Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, and Vincent Van Gogh.
Top 5 Impressionist Museums in Paris
If you are interested in learning more about this fascinating period in art history, several important museums in Paris focus on Impressionist art.
Let’s see which 5 are the best!
The ancient and glorious Gare d’Orsay, an art nouveau train station, houses the French national collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, and art nouveau works.
The station was built in 1900 for the Universal Exposition and was used until 1939, when its platforms became too short for most trains.
Then, for two decades, the government worked to transform its magnificent structure into the main gallery of French art created between 1848 and 1914.
This is how the train station gave rise to the Musée d’Orsay.
Today, the ground floor houses the first works of the period, while the second floor houses the art nouveau and sculpture rooms.
Although the list could be endless, these are some masterpieces you can’t miss at the Orsay Museum:
- Rue Montorgueil in Paris; Women in the Garden; Saint-Lazare Station (a series of paintings); or some of the various gardens of Giverny; by Monet.
- On the Beach; The Balcony; Lunch on the Grass, by Manet.
- The Room at Arles; The Sunflowers; Portrait of Doctor Paul Gachet, by Van Gogh.
- The Card Players; Green Apples; The Blue Vase, by Cézanne.
- Dance at the Moulin de la Galette; The Bathers, by Renoir.
Practical information for visiting the Musée d’Orsay:
- Website: https://www.musee-orsay.fr/es
- Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.; closed on Mondays.
- Regular rate: 16€ (online sales); 14€ (on-site sales).
- Night rate (Thursdays from 6:00 p.m.): 12€ (online sale); 10€ (on-site sale).
- Address: Esplanade Valéry Giscard d’Estaing 75007, Paris.
- Metro: Solférino station (line 12).
At one end of the Tuileries Gardens is the Orangerie Museum.
It used to be a greenhouse to house orange trees that were freezing in the cold Parisian weather, hence its name Orangerie, which means orange tree greenhouse.
Today, this small but cozy museum houses an excellent collection of impressionist paintings, including some of Monet’s masterpieces.
Not to be missed:
- The Water Lilies of Claude Monet. As arranged by the artist himself, the enormous work of the nymphs is presented in two oval rooms illuminated with light. It is considered the true “Sistine Chapel of Impressionism,” and the ensemble is one of the most outstanding monumental achievements of early 20th-century painting.
- Works by the painters Renoir, Cezanne, Sisley, Picasso, Matisse, and Modigliani are also exhibited.
Practical information for visiting the Musée de l’Orangerie:
- Website: https://www.musee-orangerie.fr/es
- Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; closed on Tuesdays.
- Standard rate: 12,50€.
- The first Sunday of the month is free for everyone with mandatory online reservations.
- Address: Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde (côté Seine), 75001 Paris.
- Metro: Concorde station (line 1, 8 and 12).
Marmottan Monet Museum, another of the Impressionist Museums in Paris
In a city like Paris, full of art, the Musée Marmottan Marmottan Museum is a little-visited jewel.
It is located in the former hunting lodge of Duke Valmy, two blocks east of the Bois de Boulogne, and houses the world’s most extensive collection of Claude Monet.
Not to be missed:
- Monet’s Impression, the rising sun gave its name to the Impressionist movement.
- Spectacular Ninfeas series by Monet, on the first floor.
- Numerous other works by Monet are on display on the upper floors, as well as paintings by Manet, Sisley, Renoir, Degas, Pisarro and Gaugin.
Practical information for visiting the Marmottan Museum:
- Website: https://www.marmottan.fr/
- Hours: from 10:00 to 18:00; Thursdays from 10:00 to 21:00; closed on Mondays.
- Standard rate: 12€.
- Address: 2, rue Louis-Boilly, 75016 Paris.
- Subway: La Muette or Ranelagh station (line 9).
Located between the Champs Elysées and Les Invalides and in front of the Grand Palais is this Parisian jewel of the Belle Epoque.
The Petit Palais, also known as the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, is a beautiful building built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. It exhibits art collections from Antiquity to 1920, bringing together realist and impressionist works.
There are works by the artists Rembrandt, Rubens, Cézanne, Corot, Degas, Rodin, and Monet.
Among some of its works are:
- The Three Bathers, by Cézanne.
- Sunset on the Seine at Lavacourt, winter effect, by Monet.
Practical information for visiting the Petit Palais:
- Website: https://www.petitpalais.paris.fr/
- Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; closed on Mondays.
- Access to permanent collections is free of charge.
- Address: Avenue Winston-Churchill, 75008, Paris.
- Metro: Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau station (lines 1 and 13).
Auguste Rodin is the foremost figure of Impressionist sculpture. The museum was created on the artist’s own initiative in 1917. The museum was created to exhibit a large part of his works.
Furthermore, to demonstrate that Rodin’s talent was not limited to sculpture, the museum exhibits paintings, drawings, engravings, and works by his student, model, and muse Camille Claudel.
The museum is housed in a small neoclassical palace with a beautiful garden where Rodin resided.
The works include:
- The thinker, bronze sculpture.
- Balzac, bronze sculpture.
- The kiss, the marble monument to love.
Practical information for visiting the Rodin Museum:
- Website: https://www.musee-rodin.fr/es
- Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; closed on Mondays.
- Standard rate: 13 €.
- Free admission is on the first Sunday of the month, from October to March. No prior reservation is required.
- Address: 77 rue de Varenne, 75007, Paris.
- Metro: Varenne station (line 13) or Invalides station (lines 13 and 8).
This is not exactly a museum but rather a side day trip visit. Once you have seen the gardens and Monet’s Nymphs in the Impressionist museums in Paris, you may be in the mood to see something else.
Between spring and autumn, you can see the authentic water lilies Monet painted in the gardens of the former home of the impressionist master bloom.
It is located in the picturesque village of Giverny and is only 1 hour away from the French capital.
If you want to know more do not miss this option:
Visiting the Impressionist Museums in Paris
There are many great impressionist museums in Paris, including the famous Musée d’Orsay, the Musée Marmottan Monet, which brings together the most extensive collection of the master of impressionism, the beautiful Petit Palais and the small but charming Musée de l’Orangerie.
Each of these museums has something unique to offer, and all are worth a visit.
If you are interested in learning more about the impressionist movement, Paris is the perfect place to do it.
Each of the five museums I present to you in this guide has its unique collection of impressionist works, which are all worth a visit.
Finally, I give you one last tip, if you want to visit these museums or others in the French capital during your trip, I recommend you take a look at the Paris Museum Pass.
This pass includes admission to almost all the museums in Paris. So if you plan to visit more than 2 museums during your trip, it is highly recommended that you take a look, as you can save money and queues.
If you have any questions feel free to leave them below in the comments!
I hope this guide to visiting the impressionist museums in Paris has helped you plan your trip.
Plan Your Trip to Paris
- Best time to travel to Paris
- Best Museums to Visit in Paris
- The museums of the 16th Arrondissement of Paris
- Free guided tours in Paris with a tour guide
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