The Grand and the Petit

June 6 Blog

Summertime in Paris and the viewing is easy, but the museum lines are long. If you want to jump the queue, or at least wait the shortest time, try to register online. It’s not a guarantee for all museums, but most will have a separate entrance for those holding reserved tickets. Often, especially for popular exhibits, there’s a timed entry so try to arrive at the designated hour. Even planning ahead, be prepared for crowded halls once you are inside (not ideal for the claustrophobic).

A quick search online will tell you what exhibits are at which museums and you can plan accordingly (see below for websites). The Louvre, of course, is the grand ole lady, and worth a visit if you’ve never been, but Paris is a paradise for museum goers and there’s so much more to attract your attention. There’s almost always something intriguing going on at the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais. The buildings themselves are indeed grandiose and not to be missed. Architect Charles Giraut designed both spaces for the 1900 Universal Exposition. They were intended as temples to art and culture. The Grand Palais has a spectacular glass dome that illuminates the interior even on cloudy days. Originally intended as temporary exhibit space, it has changing exhibits every season. These are four current ones:

Jean Paul Gaultier till August 3. This one is a fashion phenomenon with mannequins that wink and blink at you. It’s the same exhibit that was at the Brooklyn Museum a few years ago as well as in Dallas, San Francisco, and other cities around the globe. So, if you’ve seen it already, skip the lines.

Velázqueztill July 13—A bit disappointing if you go expecting only Velázquez paintings. It’s more about those other artists he influenced.

Lumière! Le cinéma inventé just till June 14, but it’s a multi-media treat in celebration of the 120th anniversary of the invention of the cinematograph—basically the invention of film by the Lumière Brothers. Children would enjoy this one even though a few of the tech buttons were malfunctioning when I was there. (Photo above is one of the domes from inside the exhibit.)

American Icons till June 22—Sixty outstanding pieces from major twentieth century American artists such as Warhol, Calder, Lichtenstein, Diebenkorn, and more from the collection at the San Francisco Art Museum of Modern art.

For more info on current and upcoming exhibits:

The Petit Palais

Although the Petit Palais hosts temporary exhibits, its original intent was as a permanent museum. Home to a fabulous art collection, its scope is broad, covering ancient times through the centuries up to WWI as well as a photographic collection. Don’t miss the works in “Paris 1900.” To walk through the splendor of the museum itself is a trip back in time. And it is anything but petit except in comparison to the Grand Palais across the
boulevard. Slip on comfortable walking shoes.

Useful sites:

#parismuseums paris

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