Considered more a bastion of classicism and epicenter for commercial deals than a hotbed of artistic experimentation, you could say that Paris has lost the status it enjoyed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as the modern art world's teeming center.
Nonetheless, contemporary art museums and centers in Paris boast some of the world's richest and most impressive permanent collections, and highly popular temporary exhibitions year-round highlight mediums from painting, sculpture, and photography to film, video and multimedia art. If you're interested in trends in contemporary creation, don't miss out on exploring the collections and current shows at these major institutions and up-and-coming new spaces
The NMMA at the Centre Pompidou
The NMMA (National Museum of Modern Art) simply cannot be missed if you wish to gain perspective on overarching trends in modern art from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Its permanent collection is regularly refreshed, curated with all audiences in mind, and is often arranged in a thematic way, highlighting a particular movement or aspect of artistic creation. Amble around the vast, quirkily designed Centre Pompidou and enjoy rooftop views of Paris after visiting the collection or enjoying one of the center's top-notch temporary exhibits.
Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris
Situated in the 16th arrondissement in close reach of Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower, the Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris is the city's municipally owned center for contemporary arts, holding an impressive permanent collection as well as hosting temporary exhibitions. It opened its doors in the early 1960s to accommodate new acquisitions by the city, and is part of the larger space called the "Palais de Tokyo". The eastern wing of the building houses the contemporary exhibition space opened in 2002 and also known, confusingly enough, as the Palais de Tokyo (read more on next page).
Palais de Tokyo
Just adjacent to the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is the Palais de Tokyo, arguably the reigning center for the avant-garde in the Parisian arts scene. Opened to the public in 2002, the Palais de Tokyo's large, airy exhibition spaces and adjoining trendy cafe-restaurant are a favorite haunt of art students and hipsters, and their exhibition program tends toward the idiosyncratic and abstract.
The Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art is not particularly well-known to tourists but is a backbone in the city's contemporary arts scene. Located near Montparnasse, the "foundation" actively supports and commissions works from up-and-coming artists, promoting artistic vibrancy and innovation, and hosts several exciting thematic exhibits every year. The gardens out back are lush and gorgeous, too.
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
The Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris is perhaps the city's leading center showcasing trends in contemporary photography. Situated in the trendy Marais district, the center hosts an ongoing stream of shows highlighting the work of prominent or promising new lenses, and its retrospectives on distinctive movements in photo history are second to none.
Vuitton Foundation: A Bold New Venture
With breathtaking architecture from Frank Gehry, the Fondation Vuitton, inaugurated in 2014, seeks to make its mark on the Parisian contemporary arts scene.
Designed as a full-fledged cultural center serving northern Paris and its young urban professionals and artists, "Le Cent-Quatre" is one of the city's newest additions to the contemporary arts scene. Galleries, a restaurant, dance classes, musical performances, and other eclectic activities crowd the program.