Musée du Jeu de Paume

The Museum of Jeu de Paume, or Galarie nationale du Jeu de Paume as it is now officially called, is a museum dedicated to the display of modern and contemporary art. It is located in the Tuileries Garden, which is located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement of Paris.

The building housing the museum was constructed in 1861 by Napoleon III. At the time he resided in the Tuileries Palace, and wanted a place created and dedicated to the sport of real tennis (Jeu de Paume). A tall standing building was consequently created in a neo-classical architectural style with four columns on its front façade and bas reliefs just above them. It was extended in 1878 to increase the length of its structure. During the Second World War, the building was used as a storage facility for the pieces of art seized by German troops during the Nazi regime. The artistic pieces were exhibited for the high ranking German officials, as well as the larger international art market. Those that remained unsold were destroyed in a fire in the middle of the war. After the war it was reinstated as a museum and used to house impressionist and post impressionist paintings. This was done until 1986 when the nearby Museum d’Orsay on the right bank of the Seine was inaugurated and the paintings were moved there.

When the collection housed at the Musee de Jeu de Paume was moved, a new function for it had to be forged. For a short while it was used as an exhibit for modern art. Finally it was decided that the museum would stand true to this new purpose that had been conceived. A renovation project was undertaken to give the museum a new, more modern face so that it could better display the contemporary art. By 1991, the reconstructions were complete and the museum was renamed as the National Gallery of Jeu De Paume. It now houses contemporary art, and has huge photographic collections some of which were previously dispersed in other museums across the country. The displays, some of which are in a modern multimedia format aim at showcasing artwork and photography by talented painters and professional photographers. The museum has risen to become the place of choice in Paris when you want to learn about the history of photography, with the archived collections giving you a detailed insight into it.

The convenient location of the museum of Jeu de Paume means you can visit it before deciding on a stroll on the beautiful gardens. One cannot truly appreciate photography without including a visit to the museum. It’s modernization and its involvement in not only photography as a niche but in film as well makes it stand out as a different museum altogether. There is another museum, the Orangerie museum located in the garden as well that specializes in impressionist and post impressionist paintings, with the water lilies by Claude Monet being put on display.