Practical information & history
Picasso Museum Paris
This museum is home to around 5,000 works of art and 200,000 documents and items from Picasso’s personal archives.
Picasso is most famous for his paintings, but his talents didn’t stop there – his sculptures, sketches, ceramics and even ideas for plays here say it all.
Tuesday – Friday, 10.30 a.m. – 6.00 p.m
Saturday, Sunday, 9.30 a.m. – 6 p.m
It’s not all about modern art here, so don’t worry if that’s not your thing. Picasso was such a versatile artist that there’s something for everyone at this museum. The paintings he produced at the age of 13 (in the style of the Old Masters, obviously) are seriously impressive!
What belongs to the permanent collection and what’s part of a temporary exhibition? Who knows! At least, we couldn’t work it out when we visited the museum.
The audio guide is excellent! The length and content are spot on. There’s even a children’s version (also available in English and French).
Last Modified: 03.02.2023 | Céline & Anne
Picasso Museum Paris
Admission to Picasso MuseumBuy Ticket
Combo-Ticket 1EUR 29.45
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Combo-Ticket 2EUR 24.30
Admission to Picasso Museum + Admission to Dalí MuseumBuy Ticket
at a glance
There are various guided tours that take place on Saturdays or Sundays.
The current program is best found on the official website www.museepicassoparis.fr
Paris Museum Pass
The Paris Museums Pass is available for 2, 4 or 6 days.
-> More about the Paris Museums Pass
WHAT IS THERE
This museum is home to around 5,000 works of art and 200,000 documents and items from Picasso’s personal archives. That makes it the most extensive Picasso collection in the world. Were you expecting the Picasso Museum in Barcelona to hold that title? It does at least seem to be the more popular museum of the two…
Major works by Picasso on display at the museum in Paris include ‘Self-Portrait’ (1901) and ‘Celestina’ (1904) from his blue period, ‘Glass, Apple and Books’ (1911), ‘Two Women Running on the Beach’ (1922) and ‘Paul as Pierrot’ (1925).
Just so you know, we’d ideally have shown off some of the exhibits here on the website, but Picasso’s work is still under copyright and you’re not allowed to take photos for “commercial” projects inside the museum.
Picasso is most famous for his paintings, but it turns out his talents didn’t stop there – his sculptures, sketches, ceramics, illustrations, writing and even ideas for plays here say it all.
The museum is also home to pieces by other artists from Picasso’s own collection too, including his friend Georges Braques as well as Cézanne, Matisse, Miró and Henri Rousseau. Swiss sculptor Diego Giacometti designed the fixtures and fittings inside the museum back in 1985. All the furniture, handrails and ceiling lamps are in his signature style and the stairs leading up to the first floor from the ground floor are honestly incredible.
The museum’s many, many exhibits are arranged in temporary displays with themes across five floors.
There are plenty of photos and videos about Picasso from the archives too. Not to mention some of his diaries and books from his personal library.
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” That’s just one of the many Picasso quotes waiting for you at the museum. And all of them offer amazing insights into his life and work as an artist. There just so happens to be proof of these particular words right here at the museum. Just wait until you see the breathtaking paintings in the style of the Old Masters that Picasso produced when he was just 13 years old (‘The Barefoot Girl’ and ‘The Man in the Hat’)! And then compare them with ‘The Young Painter’ – a masterpiece by a 91-year-old Picasso.
Picasso’s countless relationships with women provided him with a rich source of inspiration for many of his works. He painted his first wife Olga no end of times. There’s a whole room here dedicated to his portrayals of women reading and his friendship with Nusch Eluard is documented by paintings, letters and photos.
You might not be able to see ‘Guernica’ – arguably Picasso’s most famous political painting – here in Paris (you’ll have to visit the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid next), but his criticism of the Spanish Civil War and General Franco comes across in plenty of other pieces like the etching ‘The Dream and Lie of Franco’.
Picasso Museum paris
A BIT OF HISTORY
The museum building
The Picasso Museum is in the Hôtel Salé (salé meaning salty in French), which was built by Parisian salt-tax collector Pierre Aubert de Fontenay between 1656 and 1659. That’s where the building’s name came from – what started off as a nickname eventually became official. It’s likely that the little-known architect Jean Boullier de Bourges had some help from Louis de Vau, famous for his work on the Palace of Versailles.
The Aubert family were the building’s first residents. Later occupants included the Embassy of the Republic of Venice (1668–1688) and prestigious engineering school École centrale des arts et manufactures (1829). The Hôtel Salé has been owned by the City of Paris since 1962, having been a listed building since 1968.
Plans to turn it into a Picasso museum started to take shape in 1974, just a few months after the artist’s death. The ideas put forward by French Secretary of State for Culture, Michel Guy, in consultation with Picasso’s family were signed off by the Paris City Council in 1975. But the extent of the renovations required meant that the Paris Picasso Museum didn’t open its doors until 1985.
Picasso had already made plans to gift his private collection of works by other artists to the French state. In 1968, French Minister of Cultural Affairs André Malraux passed a new law intended to “conserve the country’s national artistic heritage”. From then on, there was the option of paying off inheritance tax in the form of works of art.
In 1979, Picasso’s heirs bequeathed over 3,500 pieces to the French state. Even more masterpieces were added to the collection in 1990 following the death of Picasso’s second wife, Jacqueline, a few years earlier. And Picasso’s friends made donations to the museum too. The artist’s private archives were acquired in 1992. True to his reputation as a hoarder (“you are what you keep”), these archives included over 200,000 documents, books, photographs and objects.
When the museum was renovated between 2009 and 2014, the collection was reorganised. With the technical and admin departments relocated, there was even more space to showcase Picasso’s extensive portfolio. In fact, the number of exhibits on display had more than doubled. And the focus had shifted from the previous chronological display to a more themed approach. The penthouse was reserved for Picasso’s private collection.
Official website of the Picasso Museum (FR): www.museepicassoparis.fr
Text rights: © Céline Mülich, 2019 – 2023
Image rights header + 2 from the gallery, as well
With the support of Anne Okolowitz
With permission of the Picasso Museum Paris
Image copyright © Musée Nationale Picasso-Paris
Splash + 5th image gallery: © Fabien Campoverde
Gallery: 1st image: © Voyez-Vous, Chloé Vollmer-Lo
2 staircase pictures: © Béatrice Hatala, 2014