With origins dating to the 18th century, the Musée des Arts et Métiers (the Arts and Crafts Museum) is one of Paris’ most unusual and fascinating cultural institutions. Housed in the former priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs, the museum owns upwards of 80,000 objects that range from Foucault’s Pendulum to some of the world’s first planes.
Officially the oldest science museum in Europe, the Musée des Arts et Métiers was established in 1794. It occupies a historical priory; following a period of major renovation in the 1990s, it increased its exhibition space with the addition of a second, adjacent building. Today, its wide-ranging collection includes thousands of diverse objects that represent important inventions, historical tools, and scientific advancements. Collection highlights span from Foucault’s Pendulum (a device created in 1851 to demonstrate the Earth’s rotation) to historic astrolabes, early vehicles, and more.
The Musée des Arts et Métiers is included in Paris Museum Pass schemes, so you can easily combine a visit with a sweep of the city’s other highlights.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Free entry to the museum is available on the first Sunday of the month and after 6pm on Thursdays.
- The museum is fully accessible to visitors of differing mobility levels, and hosts specialized tours for those with hearing, visual, or cognitive disabilities.
- The Musée des Arts et Métiers hosts free daily tours and demonstrations.
- Following a recent renovation, the on-site cafe is now open throughout the day and offers salads, sandwiches, and other fresh fare.
How to Get There
The closest Métro station to the museum is Arts et Métiers, accessible on the 3 and 11 lines. Buses 20, 38, 39, and 47 also stop nearby. As with most central Parisian landmarks, the museum is also easily accessed on foot, by taxi, or by Vélib’.
When to Get There
The Musée des Arts et Métiers is typically open from Tuesday–Sunday, from 10am–6pm (though it’s open until 9:30pm on Thursday evenings). The museum is closed on Christmas Day and May 1st each year. Because there are rotating temporary exhibitions, talks, and other events, it’s worth planning repeat visits.
The Arts et Métiers Métro Station
If you plan to visit the Musée des Arts et Métiers, it’s worth traveling by Métro; after all, the Arts et Métiers station is one of the most distinctive in the entire Paris Métro system, thanks to its copper plating, enormous cogs, and submarine-style portholes. The station was revamped by Belgian comic book artist François Schuiten in 1994, and its steampunk looks are an homage to Jules Verne.