February 4, 2013

The Other Museum in the Louvre Palace

Did you know that in addition to being the home of the Louvre Museum, the Palais du Louvre (Louvre Palace) is also the location of the lesser-known Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Decorative Arts Museum)?   

Musée des Arts Décoratifs Paris 18th century chairs
Although completely separate from the Louvre Museum, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs fills the western end of the Richelieu wing of the Palace.  With two entrances, one at 107 rue de Rivoli and the other on the Jardin des Tuileries side, it’s easy to find once you know it exists.

Considering the magnitude and space that the Louvre collection takes up, it is easy to assume that this second museum must be small in scope and size.   But the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is a full-fledged museum in its own right, with nine floors of diverse collections of art that merit hours of viewing.

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is divided into permanent and a continuous rotation of temporary collections.   Dating back from the middle ages to today, the main themes of all of the collections include fashion, furniture, advertising, interior design, jewelry, toys, religious painting, and tableware.

This busy museum currently boasts six temporary exhibits, with the main attraction being a breathtaking collection of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry.   Creating the illusion of a nighttime sky filled with sparkling diamond-like stars, the beautiful Nave of the museum elegantly displays 400 iconic pieces of jewelry, such as the Duchess of Wales inspired Zip necklace or the Mysterious Phoenix necklace with its 14.36 carat dangling diamond.  Blue light glowing from below and jewelry mysteriously floating in illuminated floor to ceiling glass tubes give you an otherworldly feel. This magical presentation alone is worth seeing.   

Musée des Arts Décoratifs Paris Trompe-l'oeil exhibit
Trompe-l'oeil Cabinet
The Fashion and Textile exhibit showcases 100 European outfits and their accessories for men and women from 1700 to 1915.  Although many of us have seen these types of historical outfits in movies such as Jane Austen’s film adaptations, this is a rare chance to see them close enough to appreciate all of the intricate details, designs and textures of the fabric.

Musée des Arts Décoratifs Paris furniture
Lit en Nacelle - 1827
If you are visiting the Musée des Arts Décoratifs with kids who are less than impressed by 18th century hoop skirts, or Princess Charlene of Monaco’s wedding tiara, reenergize their enthusiasm with the Star Wars Toys exhibit.   With Darth Vader breathing in the background, you can see all of the original Star Wars action figures and toys, many of them still in their original packaging.  What a blast from the past, seeing Atari 2600 video games, and 1980 tv commercials!   Not only is this exhibit great for kids, but for those of you who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, you’ll be walking around smiling as these old toys bring back tons of childhood memories.    

So if you’ve already seen most of the big name museums, next time check out the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Prefer guided tours?  Then join us on some of WICE’s upcoming visits to:

If you have some lesser-known museums in Paris that you'd like to recommend, let us know in the comments!

Photos and Post by Veronica Kugler