As is true for museums in all cities, it’s sometimes necessary for museums in Paris to shut their doors for renovations or just to get the works back in peak condition. But what’s a Cheapo to do when that happens during your visit?
Though these three museums and museum wings may be closed for the time being, here are some ways to enjoy a similar experience in Paris.
Due to a huge renovation project, the Musée Picasso remains closed until 2012. That’s a long time! The museum plans to host exhibits and other cultural events elsewhere, but no details are yet available.
Those looking for a Picasso fix can visit the Musée de l’Orangerie (pictured above) in the Jardin des Tuileries, which houses a dozen of the artist’s works (open every day except Tuesday from 9 AM to 6 PM). Admission costs €7.50, and is free on the first Sunday of the month.
The Centre George Pompidou also has a few Picassos in its permanent collection (open every day except Tuesday from 11 AM to 9 PM). Tickets cost €10-12, but like the Musée de l’Orangerie, admission is free on the first Sunday of the month.
It doesn’t much help Cheapos traveling to Paris, but a touring exhibit of some of the Picasso Museum’s collection is planned for several countries, kicking off at the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki and making stops in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Seattle, New York and San Francisco.
As a result of a serious act of vandalism, the Paris Catacombs – a massive underground mausoleum created in the 18th Century which houses the remains of some 6 million Parisians – is currently closed indefinitely. (We’ve heard that minor vandalism has long been a problem at the Catacombs. The seemingly random pile of bones near the exit is actually a stack of the artifacts visitors have tried to take home with them.)
While not quite as spine-tingling, another quirky museum that will take you under the city streets is a tour of the Paris sewer system. The hour-long visit gives a history of the city’s water distribution and removal, including the various pumps and engines used throughout the past several hundred years. The entrance to the sewers is located across from 93 Quai d’Orsay. The museum is open Saturday to Wednesday from 11 AM to 4 PM between October 1 and April 30, and closes at 5 PM between May 1 and September 30. Tickets cost €4.30.
For a taste of the macabre, you can also can check out the Centquatre art center (104 Rue d’Aubervilliers). Tours every other Sunday at 3 PM explain its history as the city’s centralized funeral home. The tour costs €5.
The Islamic art wing at the Louvre
Beyond tourist pleasers like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, the Louvre has an excellent collection of Egyptian and Near Eastern artifacts. Part of that includes an extensive display of Islamic art, which unfortunately remains off limits to the public until construction of its new home is completed in 2010. The new wing has been called “the most radical architectural addition since Pei’s glass pyramid.”
In the meantime, visitors can enjoy an exhibition of Islamic art at the Institute of the Arab World, which features manuscripts, tapestries, glassware and ceramics, jewelry and mosaics from Muslim nations across the globe. The Institute is located at 1 Rue des Fossés Saint-Bernard. The expo is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 AM to 6 PM; Thursday until 10 PM; and weekends and bank holidays until 8 PM. Admission to the exhibition, which runs through March 14, 2010, costs €10.50. For an extra freebie, head up to the roof for a great view of the city.