Guide To The Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection, Paris’ Contemporary Art Museum

Planning a visit to the Bourse de Commerce, one of Paris’ newest art spaces? Don’t expect your ordinary Paris museum!

Weighing in at over 10,000 art works, the Pinault Collection is housed in a newly-restored historic Parisian building. It’s glamorous and eye catching, akin to a palace.

The museum’s goal is not to have a standard permanent collection. Instead, what you’ll see on a visit is ever-rotating pieces from the Pinault collection and temporary exhibits that feature an infinite diversity of art.

Charles Ray's Horse and Rider in the museum courtyard
Charles Ray, Horse and Rider, in the museum’s courtyard

Every six months or so, you can see and experience something new.

Pinault’s all-star collection contains post-1960 works by notable artists such as Cy Twombly, Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, and some 400 others. He also collects works by local artists, emerging artists, and iconoclastic artists.

You’ll find some permanent in situ works and a host of artist monographs, paintings, sculpture, art and video installations, conceptual photography, light and sounds exhibits, etc.

History of the Bourse de Commerce

François Pinault is an arts patron and billionaire. He made his mega fortune with luxury fashions like as Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga. He also owns the auction house Christie’s.

frescos under the dome

The now 86-year-old Pinault has been an avid art collector since the early 1970s. He always wanted a museum to house his collection in Paris.

Because of bureaucratic pushback, it took a long time to come to fruition. While he waited, Pinault renovated and opened a collection in the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.

In 2016, Pinault announced that he had struck a deal with Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, to install his collection at the Bourse de Commerce. The building is an architectural landmark located between the Centre Pompidou and the Louvre.

Over four centuries, the Bourse has been a queen’s mansion, a grain exchange, and a commodities exchange.

frescos in the Bourse de Commerce

Its circular-shaped design was inspired by Roman monuments like the Pantheon. The column in front of the building is a remnant of the old Medici palace, which occupied the space in the 16th century.

In 2017, Pinault hired the architect Tadao Ando to transform the protected historic monument into a museum for contemporary art. Not an easy task.

Over the course of several years, Ando painstakingly restored the building back to a shrine of gilded opulence. The architect’s minimalist additions created a “dialogue between new and old,” befitting the collection’s ultra modern nature.

Tadao added a central concrete rotunda. The space is primarily used for large-scale installation pieces and serves as the “abstract core”of the building.

Playing on the idea of concentric circles, Tadao created wide circular passageways between the rotunda and the historic facade. The ground floor offices have been restored. Handsome wooden display cases show off exhibits against bright teal backgrounds.

A staircase winds up the rotunda to the top floor and the gallery spaces, which splinter off into landings that lead to cube-like white spaces within the building.

A 19th-century mural frieze depicting Triumphal France rings around the underside of the dome. The frieze was created for the World Exposition and depicts the trade of goods between the five continents of Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America.

real-looking pigeons by Maurizio Cattelan on the balustrade
stuffed pigeon installation by Maurizio Cattelan, 2011

The “glorifying the colonial” aspect of them is a sharp contract to some of the politically inspired art on display. You can get a good look at the frescos from the curving balcony at the top.

The Bourse de Commerce’s third floor also overlooks the Jardin Nelson Mandela. It offers views of Saint Eustache church, the Centre Pompidou, and the Paris rooftops.

When the museum opened in May 2021, it was an immediate sensation.

It became the first Parisian museum exclusively devoted to contemporary art from a private collection. It is Paris’ second billionaire-funded art space, after the Fondation Louis Vuitton, which was inaugurated in 2014 by Bernard Arnault.

Guide To The Bourse de Commerce: What To See

When I was there, I saw an exhibition called A Second of Eternity set in the museums’s rotunda and 10 exhibition spaces on the first and second floors. The art ranged from monumental installations to tiny photographs.

The art consisted of meditations on the question and experience of time and the themes of absence and incarnation. Some works seemed populated by shadows, ghosts, disappearing images, and even the reflections of viewers.

The art is deliberately provocative and disruptive, challenging the viewer to think.

There were works by 20 artists. Here are some of the art works that I saw, which you may not because this exhibit ended on Jan. 9, 2023.

Whatever is on view, the museum provides visitors with an ethereal space for wonder and contemplation. 

Philippe Parenno, Objects in a Fish Bowl, 2014-22
Philippe Parenno, Objects in a Fish Bowl, 2014-22

The concrete rotunda extends into the basement. There, you’ll find a 284-seat cinema and a “black box” style studio, ideal for audio-visual installations and presentations.

There are also some permanent in situ exhibits. They’re intended to subtly interrupt your journey through their interaction with the museum architecture, making you question the link between nature and culture.

I included a photo of Cattelan’s birds, called Others, above. They sit on a balustrade above you, attempting to invoke a Hitchcockian anxiety.

You can also find Ryan Gander’s stuttering animatronic mouse peeking out of a hole near an elevator. Another work by Gander is a wall clock without any hands. It doesn’t tell time, but symbolizes our perpetual race against it.

Ryan Gander, Animatronic Mouse, 2019
Ryan Gander, Animatronic Mouse, 2019

In the Machine Room in the basement, you’ll find Duane Hanson’s hyper-realistic sculpture. It’s a self portrait of the artist pondering the state of the world.

Guide To The Bourse de Commerce: Tips For Visiting

Here are some things to know about visiting the Bourse de Commerce.

Address: 2 rue de Viarmes, 75001 Paris

Opening Hours: Open Monday to Sunday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm
Late opening Fridays until 9:00 pm.


Admission is 14 euros. Click here to book a skip the line ticket.

wax sculpture after Giambologna from the inaugural exhibition
wax sculpture after Giambologna from the inaugural exhibition

If you don’t have a ticket, the ticket office is in a separate building to right as you face the main entrance. There is free access on the first Saturday of the month from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Facilities: The rest rooms are a bit hard to find. They’re in the basement floor near a “sortie” sign. They are barely marked.


On the top floor is Halle aux Grains, a new restaurant from the Bras Family. You’ll have beautiful views of Paris and the glass dome through the windows. Naturally, you’ll need to make a reservation in advance.

The cafe serves lunch and dinner and sweet treats and coffee in the afternoon. As a nod to the building’s history, ancient grains are highlighted on the menu.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Opera, 2016
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Opera, 2016

Pro Tips: There is a ground level shop with avant garden books and gift items for sale, and free lockers to store your coat and bags. You can pick up a well-put-together free pamphlet describing all the exhibits before you start perusing the collection.

Is the Bourse de Commerce Worth Visiting?

The building itself is a work of art and definitely worth seeing, from the glass dome to the beautiful woodwork. You might be so taken with the architecture that the art seems like an afterthought. It’s a wonderful pairing of old and new.

If you are not a fan of cutting edge contemporary or conceptual art, this isn’t the Paris museum for you.

You’ll also likely encounter artists you’ve never hear of before. This will bother some museum goers. But if you’re tired of brand name artists (like Jeff Koons), then the museum may be right up your alley.

Anri Sala, Take Over, 2017
Anri Sala, Take Over, 2017

I thought some of the pieces were brilliant. But I must admit I had difficulty appreciating the mylar balloons and rows and rows of war-related photographs.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to the Bourse de Commerce. You may enjoy these other Paris travel guides and resources:

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