What to do in the Picasso museum in Paris

Hôtel Salé, Picasso Museum

Hôtel Salé, Picasso Museum by LPLT – WikiCommons

World renowned Spanish artist Pablo Picasso spent a great deal of his life in Paris. Who can blame him?! I know I was struck immediately with how inspiring this city can be, and so it comes as no surprise to me that Picasso, like so many other artists of the 20th century, left their homelands to create something new in Paris.

Picasso lived a very interesting life, and most of which was spent in Paris. Logically, there is a massive museum located in Le Marais that is dedicated to him! The Picasso Museum in Paris was created as a result of most of Picasso’s works being donated to the French State. In 1974, just a few years after the artist’s death, the State decided to renovate a State-owned building, the Hôtel Salé, to house the artist’s finest works.

Keep reading for a little bit of history, and my advice on what you must do at the Picasso Museum in Paris!

Practical information:

Musée Picasso Paris, 5 rue de Thorigny 75003 Paris

Phone: +33 1 85 56 00 36.

Metro: Saint-Paul (line 1), Saint-Sébastien-Froissart (line 8), Chemin Vert (line 8)

Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:30am-6pm, Saturday-Sunday 9:30am-6pm

Admission price: 14 €

Picasso’s romance with Paris

Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga, Spain in 1881. He showed an interest and talent in art from a very early age. The Picasso family moved to Barcelona in 1895, where Picasso was enrolled in an advanced art class by his father and uncle. He excelled in the class, and his father is even rumored to have given up painting himself after seeing the talent that his young son had.

At age sixteen, Picasso was sent off to a prestigious art school in Madrid. He had always disliked going to class, and so when he moved to the city on his own, he quickly stopped attending the school, preferring to explore Madrid and be with his friends.

In 1900, Picasso moved to Paris for the first time, where he lived in poverty with his friend and poet Max Jacob. It is said that much of Picasso’s work was lost during this period, as he and Jacob were forced to burn his art in order to keep warm in their small studio apartment.

Portrait photograph of Pablo Picasso, 1908

Portrait photograph of Pablo Picasso, 1908 – WikiCommons

Picasso returned to Madrid in 1901, but after spending 6 months there, decided to move back to Paris. This move, and his famous Blue Period, began after the tragic suicide of one of his closest friends, Carlos Casagemas.

Fast-forward to 1905, and Picasso begins his famous friendship with American Expatriate Gertrude Stein. Stein is famous for her Salon, located at 27 rue des Fleurus in the 6th arrondissement. Stein welcomed (unknown at that time) artists and writers such as Picasso, Henri Matisse, Ernest Hemingway, and Ezra Pound to discuss their works with her. She quickly became one of the first and most passionate Picasso collectors in the world.

In 1909, Picasso created the style of art of which he is probably the most famous for: Cubism. Together with fellow artist and friend Georges Braques, Cubism was born. It is during the time that Picasso moved to Montmartre. I’m not sure about you, but Montmartre is one of my favorite places in Paris. It feels as if it is stuck in a time warp of the Paris of yesteryear, and I love that!

Pablo Picasso, summer 1912

Pablo Picasso, summer 1912 – WikiCommons

During World War I, Picasso moved to Avignon, while most if not all of his French friends were sent to the front lines. During World War II, Picasso remained in Paris despite the Nazi occupation.

In his later years, Picasso lived on the French Riviera, where he would remain until his death in 1973. In an effort to avoid paying enormous inheritance taxes, his family decided to donate a major portion of Picasso’s works to the French State. Enter: the Picasso Museum in Paris!

What to do in the Picasso Museum in Paris

The first thing you should do when you enter the Picasso Museum, is admire the architecture of the mansion where the museum is located. The Hôtel Salé is a private mansion owned by the French State that was awarded Historical Monument status in 1968.

Massacre in Korea by Pablo Picasso

Massacre in Korea by Pablo Picasso – WikiCommons

When Picasso’s family donated most of his estate in 1976, renovation work quickly began on the Hôtel. The renovations lasted until 1985, and were carried out by architect Roland Simounet. The museum was officially inaugurated in October 1895!

The building itself is gorgeous, and I personally find it interesting how the classical style of the architecture is juxtaposed against the more modern style of Picasso’s art.

Olga in an Armchair by Pablo Picasso

Olga in an Armchair by Pablo Picasso – Musée Picasso, Paris – WikiCommons

There are over 300 paintings, 250 sculptures, and thousands of photos and documents in their archives. Be prepared to spend at least 2-3 hours in the museum to soak in everything there is to see. I know that I usually max out after 3 hours of museum time, so if you can do more…congratulations!

Here’s what you shouldn’t miss:

  • Casagemas On His Deathbed
  • Massacre in Korea
  • Celestina
  • Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
  • Olga in an Armchair
  • The Kiss
  • Artefacts taken from Picasso’s studio
  • Drawings, notes, photographs in the archives

It’s really rare that museums let you take a look into their archives, so take advantage of it!

While you’re in Paris, why not also take a look at where Picasso lived and worked? Head to his old studio, Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre, where he painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. It’s the perfect opportunity to explore Montmartre as well!

Bateau-Lavoir

13, Place Émile-Goudeau, 75018 Paris

Conclusion

I hope this article encourages you to explore the Picasso Museum in Paris! It’s really a one of a kind experience, and is worth an afternoon of your time. Picasso was an incredible artist, and his work deserves to be admired.

If you have plans to come to Paris, and want to learn even more about different artists that have called the capital home, click here to join our skip-the-line Picasso Museum and Marais art tour!

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