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Update: The Musée Bourdelle is currently closed for renovations. It is slated to reopen in January 2023.
Paris is full of grand museums, often keeping visitors so busy that they overlook the smaller, hidden gems. The Musée Bourdelle is definitely one of those must-see art museums that tourists often miss.
Concealed in a side street just steps from the Gare Montparnasse, the former studio of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle offers a rare look at what Paris was like in the late 1800s, when the city was full of artistes and ateliers were springing up everywhere.
A student of Auguste Rodin, Bourdelle later went on to take Alberto Giacometti under his wing–both, incidentally, with their own lovely museums in Paris, the Musée Rodin and Institut Giacometti, respectively.
Bourdelle’s museum is a beautiful tribute to the 19th-century artist, a mix of an art gallery, a well-preserved home, and a gorgeous courtyard garden. The studio is almost exactly as Bourdelle left it.
With sculptures ranging from the absolutely enormous to the small and delicate, the artworks on display span a wide range of aesthetics, some typically Art Deco, and others, such as the set of Beethoven busts, a clear sign of Rodin’s influence.
Wandering through the rooms that were once his home, Bourdelle’s personal possessions offer a glimpse of what inspired him. Walking through the courtyard, you get a feeling of the tranquility he felt in his studio.
This relatively small place has plenty to see, and you’re sure to find yourself lingering over certain pieces. Personally, I couldn’t tear myself away from the courtyard and the enormous horse sculpture in the front garden.
The museum also welcomes temporary exhibitions. Right now, the Musée Bourdelle is hosting The Strange Tales of Niels Hansen Jacobsen, on show until the end of May 2020. A Danish sculptor and contemporary to Bourdelle, his works range from the bizarre to the superb, with a bit of scary too.
The Musée Bourdelle is open Tuesday–Sunday from 10am to 6pm. The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission to the permanent collections is free, charge for access to temporary exhibitions.