Musee Picasso Museum in Paris

The Musee Picasso is located in the historical Marais area of Paris within an old building that dates from around the middle of the 1600s, and it is dedicated to the works of the famous artist Pablo Picasso, and with its vast collection, it has become the main study centre for the life of Picasso throughout the world.

About the building and area in Paris

During the 12th century most of this historic area was just marshland and owned by large abbeys, but the land was dried out and used for farming, then it became gardens, and hence why this area of Paris is known as the Marais District, which translates to the Marsh.
Musee Picasso art work in Paris
But over the years this area started to become an influential part of Paris with the wealthy and nobility taking up residence here, and there was even a royal residence from the 1300s with a large area for duals and tournaments.  However, after the death of King Henry II in 1559, his wife moved to the Louvre Palace and unfortunately had the royal residence demolished.

Yet a few years later, King Henry IV order the construction of a royal square, which was called the Place Royale that was started in 1605 and is now called the Place des Vosges and several private mansions were being constructed around this area in the 3rd Arrondissement of Paris.

Now, the Hotel Sale was designed by architect Jean Boullier for Pierre Aubert, Lord of Fontenay, who was a tax collector that had become wealthy through the collection of salt taxes, and hence why this mansion house is called the Hotel Sale, as this translates to Salt Mansion.  The interior sculpted decor with its magnificent main staircase was entrusted to Martin Desjardins, who worked on places such as the Chateau Vincennes and Les Invalides, along with the sculptor brothers Gaspard and Balthazar Marcy who worked on places like Chateau Versailles.

The Hotel Sale, which is where the Musee Picasso is situated, was completed in 1659 and is located between the Place des Vosges and the unusual modern building of the Pompidou Centre, which is also known as the Beaubourg.
Now over the years the Hotel Sale has been occupied by different people, and as far back as the 17th century, this mansion house was utilised for many different purposes including as an Embassy for the Republic of Venice and the Ecole Central des Arts et Manufactures, which today is now known as the premier engineering school of France.

Under King Louis Philippe and then under the Second Empire, unfortunately, this area of Paris grew poorer and most of the residents were working class people that turned the lovely gardens and courtyards along with the buildings into workshops.  Yet by 1965 the Marais District became classified as a protected historic area and hence a full restoration program was put in place to restore many of these old Hotels, or mansions, as we would know them as.

Now when the building was occupied by the engineering school, unfortunately much of it was changed on its interior layout, however, Pablo Picasso loved old buildings and lived there for a while with his wife.

Yet this historical building called the Hotel Sale was purchased by the City of Paris in 1964, and the mansion house was left until 1974, when it was decided that the Musee Picasso museum would be installed there, and it was started to be renovated from this year.  Most of the original space was restored to how it would have been when first constructed, but was not finished until 1984.
Musee Picasso and Giacometti
Musee Picasso statue

About Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain in the October of 1881 and his father was an art teacher and painter and this no doubt influenced Picasso, as he had a great interest in art from a very early age.

In 1885, the family moved to Barcelona and he was allowed to enter the school of fine arts, even though he was younger than other students, but he was not one for discipline or schooling and this did not last long.  So by 1887, he moved to Madrid, yet moved back to Barcelona shortly afterward, where he met up with a crowd of other artists and started experimenting with different styles.

It was at the turn of the century that he then made the move to Paris, which was well known as the centre for art, as he wanted to open up his own studio and it was in these early years that he produced some dramatic paintings.  However, by 1907 he produced art that had never truly been seen before and this is really the very start of the Cubist painting style that shocked, yet fascinated the art world.

Over the years Pablo Picasso produced many different styles of paintings that were always reflected by his mood and he became one of the most famous artists still living, and was twice awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize.
Musee Picasso art display
Also over his life time Picasso had many relationships, but was actually only ever married twice, and his second marriage was in 1961 to Jacqueline who remained his wife right up until his death in 1973.

The start of the Musee Picasso Museum in Paris

There are actually several museums throughout the world that are dedicated to Pablo Picasso, however, the Musee Picasso museum in Paris is said to be the best and most complete museum.

When he died in 1973, Pablo Picasso left behind a large amount of art work to his wife and four children.  And within France there is a law that states that if the estates taxes cannot be paid the artist's heirs can pay the estate taxes due by handing over artworks to the French state, and this is exactly what happened here.

This also meant that the funding for a museum dedicated to Pablo Picasso became possible within Paris, as the heirs agreed to let the state choose which pieces they would like, prior to distributing other works.
Musee Picasso painting
Hotel Sale home of Musee Picasso
There were 203 paintings, 158 sculptures, 29 relief paintings, 88 ceramics, 1,500 drawings, 1,600 etchings, manuscripts and works on paper, and the Hotel Sale was chosen as the place to house the Musee Picasso.

A competition was put in place to design the museum in this historical mansion house and the competition was one by the French architect Roland Simounet in 1976, in which he had to respect the character of the building, whilst still ensuring that the presentation and preservation of the Pablo Picasso collection would be beneficial to visitors of the museum.

There were also many decorative elements that went into the Hotel Sale including chandeliers, benches, chairs and tables that were created by Diego Giacometti especially for the Picasso museum.

The personal collection of Pablo Picasso that he had collected over his lifetime and included pieces from friends such as Henri Matisse and masters whom he admired like Paul Cezanne was given to the French state in 1978.
Pablo Picasso art work
Although the idea was that it should go to the Musee du Louvre Museum, it was not logical due to the time line depicted at the Louvre and more obvious from the start, that the collection should go into the Musee Picasso Museum.

The Hotel Sale was eventually finished in 1984 and the Musee Picasso was officially inaugurated the following year.

About the Musee Picasso in Paris

Since this museum in Paris opened there have been additions to the collection, which included additional drawings, paintings, ceramics, sculptures and etchings from when Jacqueline, the wife of Pablo Picasso died in 1990.

But then in 1992 the personal archives of Picasso were donated to the French state and these included absolutely thousands of different documents and photographs that spanned this famous artist's entire life.  It is because of this, that the Musee Picasso Museum in Paris has become the main centre of study for the life and work of Pablo Picasso.
Pablo Picasso Goat
Today, this museum still retains a large selection of unique works by this famous artist, along with others that he had collected over the years from artists such as Matisse, Rousseau, Degas, Renoir, Modigliani and Cezanne.

In fact, the Picasso collection in Paris comprises over 5,000 works and tens of thousands of archived pieces, which is the only museum in the world to present Picasso’s complete painted, sculpted, engraved and illustrated works with a precise record through sketches, studies, drafts, notebooks, etchings in various stages, photographs, illustrated books, films and documents that show the creative process of Picasso for everyone to enjoy while visiting Musee Picasso when on holiday in Paris.

The museum is arranged in chronological order, and really does provide a great collection that depicts different parts of his life.  But not just through his own works, as you can discover cartoons that mocked him, or newspaper clippings, photographs and much more, which can provide even more information about Picasso and his life over the years.

There are also temporary exhibitions organised throughout the year on different themes such as a specific piece of art, or a period in his life, etc, which are often run in conjunction with other Picasso museums, such as the one in Madrid, Spain.
Musee Picasso hallway with sculpture
Picasso museum paintings in Paris
You will also find that there is a cafe style tea room at the Musee Picasso, which is called Le Cafe sur le Toit, or Rooftop Cafe in English, and located on the first floor that can be accessed via a staircase, it has been designed like a workshop under the roof timbers, with white tones, stone, slate and natural wood that opens onto a roof terrace.

Here you can enjoy a bite to eat table d'hote style, standing at high bar tables or relax on the terrace during nice weather and enjoy snacks, salads, sandwiches, soups, a dish of the day, sweets and cakes plus some traditional Spanish specialities, reminding you of the origins of Pablo Picasso.

Visiting the Musee Picasso Museum in Paris

The Musee Picasso Museum is spread over the three floors of the Hotel Sale in the Marais District of the 3rd Arrondissement of Paris, and you will be pleased to know that there are now lifts, meaning it is accessible to the disabled and wheelchairs are available upon request, however, we would like to point out that unfortunately one room can only be accessed via stairs.
Pablo Picasso art works inside Musee Picasso
This museum is open on a Tuesday through to a Friday from 10:30am through to 6pm and at a weekend from 9.30am through to 6pm, but we would like to point out that the garden is always closed between the months of October and March.

However, the Musee Picasso is closed on a Monday and on National French Holidays such as 1st January and 1st May, plus last entry is no less than 45 minutes before closing time with rooms starting to get cleared 20 minutes prior to closing.

Now as of 2018 the cost of entry is €12.50, but it is free to those under the age of 18 and the disabled, plus there is also free entry for anyone on the first Sunday of each month, with this price also including temporary exhibitions that are being held at the time.

But there is also the option of a museum ticket and a multimedia audio guide, which is available in French, English and Spanish at present, and this is a cost of €5 as of 2018 in addition to the cost of the museum ticket if you have to pay.
Pablo Picasso Cubist painting

Access to the Musee Picasso in Paris

When it comes to reaching the Musee Picasso via public transport in Paris, you will find that the nearest Metro stations are the Saint-Sebastien-Froissart or Chemin Vert stops via line 8 or the Saint-Paul stop via line 1.

Alternatively the bus lines 20, 29, 65, 67, 69, 75, 76 and 96 along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via lines N02, N11 and N16 will also get you close by to this, several other museums and many other tourist attractions in Paris.