Musée des Arts Décoratifs

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs occupies the northwestern-most wing of the iconic Louvre, placing it not far from such other famous Paris attractions as Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie, and the Hôtel de la Marine. Considered by some to be the greatest decorative arts museum in the world, Musée des Arts Décoratifs is home to over 150,000 objects and artifacts dating from the Middles Ages to modern times. Its many period rooms demonstrate how people lived in their day and age, and the museum’s collection of furniture, ceramics, glass, jewelry, textiles, and much more is incredibly diverse.

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History of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is run by Les Arts Décoratifs, an organization that dates to 1882 and is, in addition to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, responsible for Musée Nissim de Camondo (a historic house museum) and the École Camondo (a school for product design and interior architecture). The Musée des Arts Décoratifs itself was founded in 1905.

Throughout its approximately 120-year history, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs has hosted numerous influential exhibitions—notably playing a prominent role in popularizing the concept of Art Deco—while building a tremendous collection of objects dating back to the thirteenth century. The historic palace structure in which the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is housed was extensively renovated in the first decade of the twentieth century and remains a marvelous setting for this acclaimed institution.

Musée des Arts Décoratifs Highlights

Today, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs typically has approximately 6,000 unique objects on display at any time as part of its numerous permanent exhibits. These permanent exhibits may be experienced chronologically or thematically. Notable time periods chronicled here include the Middle Ages/Renaissance, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the nineteenth century, while themed galleries within the museum are devoted to Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Japanese design, Italian design, chairs, plastics, children, and jewelry across the ages, to name just a few.

No matter the nature of your interest in the decorative arts, you’re liable to find multiple exhibits throughout this sprawling museum that cater to your particular tastes. That’s because the massive collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is so varied and eclectic that regardless of whether you’re into ceramics, glass, dollhouses, wallpapers, enamels, woods, prints, scrolls, all of the above, or none of the above, you’re going to find something here that fascinates you.

Having said that, perennial favorites at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs usually include exhibits devoted to the early Italian Renaissance, which highlights wedding chests commissioned by the Medicis; the Altarpiece Gallery, which brings together church relics from various European artists working between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries; and the drawing room of the Hôtel de Serres on Place Vendôme, which dates to the late eighteenth century.

More to See and Do at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is a remarkably diverse institution, full of far more fascinating exhibits, artifacts, and objects than can be profiled here. Still, there are several other features of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs worth highlighting below.

At the Table with Charlotte Perriand and Le Corbusier is another one of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs remarkable possessions. This exhibit recreates the groundbreaking kitchen design that Perriand and Le Corbusier developed during the middle of the twentieth century for the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille.

•The Musée des Arts Décoratifs contains a series of rooms that recreate what it was like to live in comfort during several historical periods. Particular rooms of note found within the Musée des Arts Décoratifs include a Louis-Philippe style bedroom of the 1830s, a late medieval bedroom from Château de Villeneuve-Lembron in the Auvergne region of France, and a circa-1880 drawing room designed by the Swiss artist Eugène Grasset.

•In addition to its impressive permanent collection, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs features an ever-changing lineup of temporary exhibitions on a host of intriguing subjects. By their very nature, these temporary exhibitions are always going to be different (depending on when you visit), but recent shows at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs have covered topics as wide-ranging as the original manuscript of Antoine de Saint- Exupéry’s The Little Prince, the designs of the French department store Prisunic, and selections from the museum’s own photographic archives.

•The Musée des Arts Décoratifs boutique is itself a work of art, having been created by the contemporary French designer Mathilde Brétillot. This elegant gift shop sells an assortment of books, bags, ornaments, ceramics, toys, glassware, and a whole lot more.

•Loulou is the on-site restaurant at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and it’s a terrific choice for any guests looking to treat themselves to a special meal before or after touring the institution. Loulou does lunch, snacks, and tea—all in a breathtaking setting along Rue de Rivoli.

Why the Musée des Arts Décoratifs Should Be on Your Must-See List

If you’re visiting Paris for any reason at all, you’re absolutely finding time to visit the Louvre, right? Yes, of course you are. Well, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs occupies the northwestern wing of the Louvre Palace, meaning you can visit two extraordinary attractions without having to worry the slightest about logistics. Many experts consider the Musée des Arts Décoratifs to be the world’s foremost institution devoted to the decorative arts, so if you possess even the smallest interest in this fascinating subject, you can’t afford to miss it. You’ll be well-rewarded by this museum’s breathtakingly varied collections.