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Arts & Museums
The Curie Laboratory, nowadays a museum, was built from 1911 to 1914, after Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radium and polonium in 1898 (Nobel Prize in 1903). For 20 years, Marie Curie did her research here with her daughter and son-in-law, Irène and Frédéric, who received a Nobel Prize in 1935 for the discovery of artificial radioactivity. The Curie Museum tells the story of radioactivity and its diverse applications, including medical, among others. Check out a replica of Marie’s laboratory, which was rebuilt after being decontaminated. The family received five Nobel prizes which are on display at the museum entrance.
This museum is the former studio of the sculptor Ossip Zadkine and comprises around 100 pieces bequeathed by his widow. Of Russian origins, the artist established himself in Paris in 1909. Disappointed by the academic education he received in London and Paris, he turned to other sources of inspiration. Rodin, Roman and Gothic statues, as well as African art became models in his quest to adapt to the third dimension of the aesthetic principles of cubism. Rather than offering revolutionary discoveries, he preferred to use the traditional methods to create his masterpieces.
The Cluny National Museum of the Middle Ages is located near the famous Sorbonne University and is one of the best examples of 15th-century architecture. The museum showcases armor, chests, ivories, mirrors and hangings which were gathered by Alexandre du Sommerard to portray the Medieval ages and the Renaissance. There is a whole room depicting the most amazing pieces of art from the 16th Century, such as Dutch tapestries full of flowers and birds, a woman spinning while a cat plays with the end of the thread and a pretty woman in her bath, overflowing into a duck pond. But the best exhibit is that of 'The Lady with the Unicorn' tapestry, which features six inscrutable scenes of a beautiful woman flanked by a lion and a unicorn.
Located in the police headquarters of 5th arrondissement, the Préfecture de Police museum, created in 1909 by Préfet Louis Lépine, tells the story of Parisian police from 17th Century to today, using 2000 objects, sometimes unique pieces. Despite the 1871 fire during the Parisian Commune that destroyed the Préfecture, numerous objects were gathered for the 1900 Universal Exhibition, and then completed by lots of donations and accessions. This large place is divided in chronological and thematic spaces, all the events that Parisian police encountered are explained thanks to posters, manuscripts, prints, castings… and incriminating evidence.
Located in the Palais du Luxembourg's east wing, this is one of Paris' finest museums. The Musée du Luxembourg originally had a permanent collection of 19th-century sculptures and paintings. Today however, the gallery holds only temporary exhibitions. Call ahead for details about the different programs, which are decided by the Ministry of Culture and the Senate. The museum also offers discounts to large groups.
Paris is blessed with some of the most fantastic tourist spots in the world that have travelers swarming its streets throughout the year. It is no wonder that this small museum established in 1835 that mainly housed anatomic objects did not catch on with the visitors. Even though the museum was said to own one of the oldest and largest collections of anatomical anomalies it was shut down in 1937 owing to its waning popularity. Reopened in 1937, Jacques Delarue breathed life back into the museum and added the existing collection with rare specimens, wax models and other ephemera related to practicing medicine and anatomy. Today the museum garners quite some interest from the medical community and its students.
The Museum of Medical History, located in the former University of Medicine’s library built in 1905, in the heart of the Latin Quarter of Paris, invites you to discover the history of medicine and surgery, from antiquity to the 19th Century. Over 1500 objects are on display in windows, all unique and bizarre. They show, chronologically, the origins of medicine. A dis-mountable anatomical dummy made of lime wood, and composed of over 3000 sculpted pieces (on Bonaparte’s order), stands at the museum entrance and welcomes the visitors on their way towards a strange journey.
Located in Paris, the Maison d'Auguste Comte is an exclusive museum dedicated to the renowned philosopher Auguste Comte. With the help of memorabilia like the handwritten letters and a library, a writing desk, Clotilde de Vaux portraits, the museum in its five different rooms gives an insight into the life of the philosopher. Though the museum is open only on Wednesdays, it can be visited by prior appointment on weekdays.
The Grande Galerie de L'Evolution, part of the Museum of Natural History, tells the fascinating story of evolution through animal exhibits. This enormous space has huge life-size exhibits of various animals and their metamorphosis through evolution. The exhibition is divided into three main sections which cover topics from the variety of species of animals to how they've changed over time due to natural and human activity. Guided tours of the exhibition are available, although only in French. This is a fantastic place to learn about animal life and evolution.
Located in the Grande Galerie de L'Evolution, in Le Jardin des Plantes, La Galerie des Enfants is a specially designed exhibition area for children ages six to 12. Attracting families from all around, the gallery is so popular that it works on a timed schedule, visitors are admitted in shifts, allowing an hour and a half of discovery time. This highly interactive museum features hands-on experiments and educational activities perfect for parents and kids to explore together. Be sure to visit the website for times and ticket information.
The glass and steel building, designed by the architect Jean Nouvel, that houses the Foundation Cartier, accurately reflects the specific concept of this museum. Created in 1984, this Foundation helps contemporary artists by promoting their works and exhibits a variety of works from paintings to videos to sculptures. The famous fashion designer Issey Myiake, whose work has sometimes been controversial, is one of the great names exhibited.
Since 1934, the Musée de l'Assistance Publique has been housed in the Hôtel Miramion, which was built in the 17th Century by François Mansard. This museum retraces the history of Parisian hospitals from the Middle Ages to the present. The history is depicted through many paintings, manuscripts and surgical instruments. A pharmacy has also been reproduced. This is truly an interesting trip through the years of medical history, which will make you appreciate some aspects of our life today.