Musée National Picasso-Paris is a showcase for masterpieces and iconic works by internationally celebrated, influential, and prolific artist Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), preserving a collection that is part of the national heritage of France.
Born in Malaga, Spain, Picasso lived much of his life in Paris, and the museum provides a substantive overview of his creative output as a modern artist.
The collection is prodigious and extraordinary – over 5,000 works of art, including Picasso’s paintings, sculptures, prints, engravings, sketches, illustrated books and photos, and multiple thousands of archived pieces. Picasso’s heirs donated the collection in lieu of paying inheritance tax just a year after his death.
Among the pieces by Picasso in the collection are: Man with a cap; The Death of Casagemas; Self-portrait, 1901; Seated nude, 1905; Demoiselles d’Avignon; Man with Guitar, 1911; Portrait of Olga in an armchair, 1918; Head of a bull, 1942; Little girl skipping, 1950; and Woman with pillow, 1969.
Just as impressive as Picasso’s art is the building that houses it. The museum, situated on rue de Thorigny in the historic Marais district, occupies the elegant, mid-17th-century Mazarin-style Hotel Salé. A spacious cobblestone courtyard fronts the museum.
From the 18th century to the 20th century, the mansion had a variety of occupants, including private individuals and institutions. In 1964 the city of Paris bought the building, which subsequently received designation as a historic monument in 1968. Between 1979 and 1985, Hotel Salé was renovated, restructured and refurbished to house the future museum that debuted in 1985.
After 25 years of operation, the museum closed for several years for a massive undertaking of renovation, modernization, restoration and expansion. It reopened in Oct. 2014.
With a two-story entrance hall, the focal point of the interior is the ornate central staircase. The five floors of galleries include a vaulted basement dedicated to his studios, and a loft-like attic with exposed wooden beams that contain part of Picasso’s personal art collection – works by Cezanne, Matisse, Braque and Renoir, among them.
Musée National Picasso-Paris remains one of the most popular museums in Paris, thanks to the quality and scope of work by this seminal figure in 20th century modern art.
When you go
Musée National Picasso-Paris
5 rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris
Open every except Mondays, Dec. 25, Jan 1, and May 1.
Like many other museums in Paris, Musée Picasso-Paris offers free admission on the first Sunday of each month.
You can read more travel articles by Mary Gilbert on her blog The Roads Traveled.