If you happen to be in Paris on the first Sunday of the month, make a mental note of it and be sure to check out a museum or two! That's because many museums offer free entrance. (Take a look at en.parisinfo.com for a list and be sure to check the time frame as some museums only offer this during the off-peak season.)
This free museum day can be good for saving some money on big ticket sites such as €11 admission to the Musée d'Orsay (completely worth it in my opinion though). Lately I've been utilizing free admission Sundays to explore museums I might not otherwise want to commit to monetarily. It introduced me to the cool Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature that I had reservations about visiting (a hunting and nature museum?! Let's just leave it that my girl scout troop "camped" in hotels back in the day).
When my aunt and cousin were in town on the first Sunday of July, we decided to stop in the Musée Gustave Moreau to explore.
Tucked away in the ninth arrondissement on a quiet street near Trinité church is the three-story museum, housed in the former residence of artist Gustave Moreau. On the first floor you can visit his apartment and wander through the rooms that feel like he left it exactly that way. Before his death in 1898, he bequeathed his home including his artwork to the state of France under the condition that everything remain together to portray who he was as an artist. (Read more in this NY Times article.)
The museum opened just five years after his death, in 1903. Walking through his apartment really does feel like opening a time capsule and peering into another era. But the most impressionable part of the museum was walking up to the second floor and entering into this gallery Moreau created to display his work.
Suddenly we entered into an immense, bright, airy space surrounded by his paintings that spanned from floor to ceiling. The gallery itself was impressionable, especially realizing that this was once part of an actual, private Parisian home. Once we took it in for a moment, we started to wander around and discover Moreau's paintings that none of us were familiar with prior.
And then there was some stunning architecture. Like this staircase...
The museum did not offer much curation so I can't say I walked away feeling I understood exactly who Gustave Moreau was, what inspired him, and the context he fit into within the art world. If you want that frame of reference, read up on his life and works before you arrive.
But of course that's my opinion, coming from the person who goes to a museum and reads every plaque and sign posted. Maybe the absence of written information helped me to look at, discover, and interpret his works myself without being "told" what it was or why it was created. Perhaps Moreau would have wanted it that way too, as a symbolist painter who wanted the truths of his works to be arrived at indirectly.
If you are in the neighborhood, consider stopping by this little hidden gem in Paris. You'll feel like you've stepped into another era as Gustave Moreau's guest and just uncovered a little treasure in Paris that so many don't know about.
PLAN YOUR VISIT:
14, rue de La Rochefoucauld 75009 Paris, France
Open daily except for Tuesdays; Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 10:00am-12:45pm / 2:00pm-5:15pm; Friday-Sunday 10:00am-5:15pm (without interruption)
Closed on: Tuesdays, January 1st, May 1st, December 25th
Admission: €5 adults / €3 reduced tariff / Free for those under 18 years old
Free for everyone on the first Sunday of each month