The Best Virtual Museums in Paris To Explore Online At Home
Updated: Dec 14, 2020
Here's my artsy wanderlust guide to the best virtual museums in Paris France for at home culture vultures.
Do you love the City of Light? Or need some digital destination or cultural inspiration for a future trip to France? No problem! Now, you can virtually tour many of Paris' amazing museums right from your couch or computer.
Some of Paris' museums have partnered with Google Arts & Culture or have stand out online collections. Still others provide virtual tours, have added special online exhibits for virtual viewers, or can be visited via YouTube art experts. You can take a delightful DIY virtual tour of Paris museums without leaving your home.
The Best Virtual Museum Tours in Paris
Let's take a digital tour of Paris' amazing virtual museums.
1. Musee Rodin, Rodin Museum Virtual Tour
Opened in 1919, the Rodin Museum is a shrine to the complex life and oeuvre of one of France's most revered artists, Auguste Rodin. Rodin is considered the father of modern sculpture.
He was absurdly talented, his works a torrent of expressive power. Rodin's titular museum is housed in the 18th century Hotel Biron, a romantic mansion where Rodin created some of his greatest works.
The museum's permanent collection includes many iconic Rodin sculptures and works from Rodin's brilliant student Camille Claudel. The Rodin Museum also has a vast and verdant sculpture garden. In it, Rodin hand placed some of his favorite and most iconic sculptures.
The Rodin Museum has added some online audio tours. You can take a virtual tour of his famous sculpture The Thinker, read stories about Rodin's life, and view and learn about 40 of the figures in his masterpiece The Gates of Hell. You can also explore over 300 Rodin sculptures on Google Arts & Culture. Here's my complete guide to Paris' Rodin Museum, if you want to know more.
2. The Musee de l'Armee, the Army Museum Virtual Tour
Paris' Army Museum is one of Europe's best military museums, housed in the Les Invalides complex in the 7th arrondissement. Military buffs and history geeks will be in heaven.
The impressive museum has seven collections and over 500,000 pieces of art -- artillery, weapons, armor, uniforms, and paintings from antiquity to the 20th century. You can even find Napoleon's stuffed horse and one of Hitler's notebooks.
You can explore the Army Museum's collections online. You can also take a 360 tour of the Les Invalides complex where the museum is housed, showcasing the Tomb of Napoleon and the famous gold Les Invalides dome and chapel. If you want the full scoop, I've written a guide to visiting the Army Museum.
3. Musée National Picasso, Picasso Museum Virtual Tour
Paris' Picasso Museum is a fantastic single artist museum. It holds one of Paris' most treasured art collections, shown off in an elegant private mansion in the Marais.
What I love most about the Picasso Museum is that it houses all the art that Picasso himself couldn't part with. It's a personal collection that he created, curated, lived with, and kept nearby his entire life. The museum showcases all the artistic periods of his long life, all the women he romanced, and reveals his extraordinary range and talent.
Here's an excellent series of audio tours of Picasso Museum masterpieces. The museum itself doesn't yet have a very good online collection. But you can check out virtual tours of the museum on YouTube here and here. Smarthistory offers 13 virtual tours of seminal Picasso works. And you get explore Picasso paintings on Google Arts & Culture.
Here's my complete guide to visiting the Picasso Museum in Paris.
4. Louvre Virtual Tour
The Louvre is Paris' crown jewel and the world's most visited museum. Unfortunately, the Louvre doesn't have an arrangement with Google Arts & Culture.
But the Louvre does offer free virtual tours of some of its most important exhibits. You can admire the Egyptian Antiquities collection, Napoleon's Rooms, the Medieval Louvre, and sculptures by Michelangelo. In my guide, I tell you how to take a virtual tour of every Louvre masterpiece.
Via my blog, you can also explore the Louvre's underrated masterpieces and what I think is the best painting in the Louvre, Theodore Gericault's Raft of the Medusa.
If you're a Beyonce fan, her recent music video featured pieces from the Louvre. Now, you can follow the Beyonce Louvre Trail on the Louvre website. Smarthistory also has a large collection of YouTube videos about individual master works in the Louvre. Don't miss everyone's favorite, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.
5. Musee d’Orsay Virtual Tour
The Musee d'Orsay is a bastion of fantastic 19th century art, mostly French. It has the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in the world. It boasts masterpieces by Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Manet, Gauguin, Seurat, and so many other artists.
In particular, the d'Orsay is a Van Gogh treasure trove. You can inspect his Self Portrait, Starry Night, Dr. Gachet, The Church at Auvers, and The Bedroom.
Other d'Orsay masterpieces include Manet's Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia, Cezanne's Card Players, Monet's Houses of Parliament, and Renoir's La Moulin de la Galette.
On Google Arts and Culture you can virtually tour dozens of famous works from the d'Orsay. Smarthistory has a good collection of online videos analyzing many of the d'Orsay's masterpieces. Here's my complete guide to 25 must see masterpieces at the Musee d'Orsay.
6. Musee de l'Orangerie Virtual Tour
Paris' Musée de l'Orangerie, or the Orangerie Museum, is one of the best small museums in Paris. The Orangerie's main claim to fame is its collection of Impressionist painter Claude Monet's water lilies.
In 1927, the water lily canvases were set in massive curved panels and installed in two adjoining oval shaped rooms in the (then new) museum. Some art historians call the Orangerie Museum's space the world's "first art installation" because the rooms were created and designed specifically for Monet's water lilies.
Here's my complete guide to the Orangerie. You can also visit the museum masterpieces virtually on Google Arts & Culture or on YouTube with Smarthistory.
7. Grand Palais Virtual Tour
The Grand Palais is a massive Beaux-Arts icon. The facade combines a classical stone facade and a riot of Art Nouveau style ironwork. It has a beautiful glass roof. At the corners, are statues of flying horses and chariots. At night, the glass roof glows, lit from the inside.
The Grand Palais is used for all sort of occasions. It hosts art exhibitions, fairs, trade shows, and sporting events. In winter, it even has an ice rink.
You can take a virtual tour of the Grand Palais and learn about its history and design. You can virtually hike up to the roof and see panoramic views of Paris. The Grand Palais has also partnered with Google Arts & Culture. You'll find hundreds of images, stories, and photographs there.
Even better if you love Roman ruins, the Grand Palais has uploaded its temporary exhibit about the ruins of Pompeii online for virtual viewers to peruse.
8. Monnaie de Paris Virtual Tour
The off the beaten path Monnaie de Paris is a government owned institution and former mint of Paris, facing the banks of the Seine River. It's a multi-functional place. It houses a museum on coin making, hosts temporary art exhibitions, houses artists workshops, and houses the Michelin starred Café Frappé by Bloom.
You can take virtual tour of the grand building here. Stroll its grand rooms and decorations online.