In the picturesque lanes of Montmartre, hidden behind tall unassuming walls, lies an oasis of greenery, brimming with art and history. The Musée de Montmartre is housed in one of the oldest buildings of Montmartre, which provides a setting befitting the journey visitors take into the history and legacy of Montmartre. Created in 1960, this unique space shines a light on the role Montmartre has played within the Paris cultural landscape. The district’s artistic impact has been immortalized not only in the works of painters such as Auguste Renoir, Salvador Dalí, Émile Bernard, Picasso, Suzanne Valadon, and Maurice Utrillo, but also by the joie de vivre it still oozes thanks to its celebrated cabaret scene.
The Montmartre Museum
The museum’s permanent collection offers a window into the past, containing rare photographs and artifacts from when this quartier Parisien came into existence. Following Montmartre’s annexation to the City of Paris in 1860, this once nondescript countryside complex became a hub of creativity and flamboyance.
Alongside these historical pieces, the permanent collection also includes artworks by the many great artists who made Montmartre their stomping grounds. The permanent also provides a view into the workshops, cafes and houses where these artists lived and worked, such as Bateau-Lavoir and Cortot.
There is a whole exhibition on the development of shadow theatre and cabarets with a lot of information on how the now-iconic cabaret du Chat Noir or cabaret of the Black Cat came into being.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions by diverse artists throughout the year.
Suzanne Valadon’s L’atelier Appartement
It was in 1912 that the artists Suzanne Valadon, Maurice Utrillo and André Utter moved into the still-standing workshop and apartment inside the museum grounds. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this opportunity to peer into the lives of these great minds.
Hubert Le Gall recreated this space by being respectful of historical accuracy. He combed through photographs, historical writing and letters of that era to recreate an artists’ residence which is as close to the reality of the times as possible.
Walking through the workshop and apartment is like slipping into a time-portal. It feels as if Utrillo would walk in to open his window to let the sun in, while in the workshop, the brushes are splotched with colors that look like the remains from yesterday’s painting session. An empty easel awaits a new canvas while the light filters through the glass roof and the wide windows open up to sweeping views of Paris.
The Museum’s Gardens, Vineyards and Workshops
The Jardins Renoir, or Renoir Gardens, are dedicated to the great painter Auguste Renoir, who lived here between 1875-1877. The garden is as much a part of the museum’s identity as its artifacts. It bears the impressions of all the great artists who lived and worked here.
The garden has an old-world charm, with beautifully overgrown rose bushes, vines, and tall trees. It also houses Café Renoir which with its welcoming terrace, makes for the perfect spot to grab a drink or even lunch.
The museums also offer views overlooking the vineyards of Montmartre. The Jardin sauvage Saint-Vincent lies next to the museum’s gardens which adds tranquility and a rugged appeal to the surrounding area and the views.
The museum also offers many kinds of workshops for children to discover the vineyard and gardens in creative ways. These include harvest and vegetable garden workshops.
Tickets for the Musée Montmartre can be booked on-site or online via the museum website. Normal tickets for adults cost 15€. If you just want to visit the gardens and grounds, it costs 5€. It’s also possible to get a tour of the vineyards along with the visit for 36€.