Aside from being a major museum of Asian Art, the Musée Guimet also has a library specializing in the ancient art and archeology of eastern and far-eastern Asia. The library was created in 1889, when the museum building was opened. There are currently over 100,000 volumes in all European and Asian languages, as well as collections of 1500 periodicals.
Use of the library is limited to those who have a plausible scholarly, professional or personal interest in the subject matter, at the discretion of the museum director.
The main part of the library is now located on the ground floor, but some of the historic nineteenth century volumes are still shelved in the rotunda on the second floor (first three photos).
Fourth photo: Above the library there are eight caryatids that function as pillars to hold up the dome of the roof. I tried taking photos from different angles, but couldn’t get more than three of the eight caryatids in any one photo.
Until recently I didn’t even know the word, but while I was writing the Palace Decorations tip on my Bruchsal page, I learned from VT member german_eagle (Ingo) that this sort of figure, a sculpted female figure serving as a column or a pillar, is called a Karyatide in German or caryatid in English.
Next review from June 2012: Place d’Ièna
This is a highly respected museum of Asian arts, founded in Lyon in 1879 and moved to Paris in 1889. The founder, Émile Guimet (1836-1918), was a wealthy industrialist from Lyon. He was also an author, a world traveler, a musician and a composer. Among other musical works he composed an oratorio Le feu du ciel, using a text by Victor Hugo, which was performed in Paris and London. And he even composed an opera with a Chinese subject, Taï-tsoung, which premiered in Marseille en 1894.
But his main interest was studying Asian religions and collecting Asian and Egyptian artworks. His Egyptian collection has long since been integrated into the collection of Egyptian Antiquities at the Louvre, but the artworks he collected while traveling in Asia in 1876 are still on display at the Musée Guimet, along with many other pieces that have been added since then.
The museum collection now consists of 45,000 sculptures, paintings and other objects of art from Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma, Japan, Korea, China, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia.
The Shiva (first photo) is one of several pieces from the Champa culture in what is now Vietnam. The statue is described as being in the style of “Thap Mam” from the end of the eleventh century or the beginning of the twelfth.
Admission to the permanent collections of the Musée Guimet is included in the Paris Museum Pass. Individual admission currently costs 7.50 Euros (as of 2012) and includes a free audio guide in one of eight languages: French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese or Korean.
Next review from June 2012: Library at Musée Guimet
If you're interested in Asia (as well as Paris), then this lesser-known museum is somewhere you should try to stop by. It's full of well-preserved archeological treasures from all over Asia - from Afghanistan to Japan and many points in between.
If you've been to Angkor Wat in Cambodia then many of the exhibits will seem familiar - they have many excellent items from that country. A fascinating place.
It's open daily except Tuesdays from 10am, last entrance is 5.30pm. Museum cards are accepted; if you don't have one then the normal adult entrance is 7 euros.
One of the most interesting and wonderful Paris' museums with the Art of Asia. You can visit the collection of art from India, Burma,Thailand, Nepal, Tibet, Vietnam, Japan, China and some other ones countries on the 4 floors.
The collection is rich and really amazing. Some pieces of art are very old and they really are breathtaking.
It is opened every day without Tuesdays in hours: 10.00 a.m -6 p.m.
There is also a small shop near this museum and I really recomend it as there are a lot of interesting souvenirs there.
Musée Guimet, one the most (if not The Most) extraordinary museums of Oriental Art in the world,
do not forget to visit its beautiful Annex nearby, the Musée du Panthéon Bouddhique with its Japanese garden
(19 avenue d'Iéna 75016).
The Guimet Museum has the largest collection of Asian art outside Asia.
The museum which was first located at Lyon in 1879 and was handed over to the state and transferred to Paris in 1885,
was founded by Émile Étienne Guimet, an industrialist.
Devoted to travel, Guimet was in 1876 commissioned by the minister of public instruction to study the religions of the Far East, and the museum contains many of the fruits of this expedition, as well as to those of Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.
This is the museum for Asia artifacts in Paris. Located in the elegant 16th and recently renovated, it is a nice small museum to visit. Of course the Cambodian and Vietnamese objects are the result of colonial plunder -- the upside is the excellent way in which they are displayed, post-renovation.
I have additional photos from this museum in a travelogue on my Phnom Penh page.
I spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon there, it was so hot outside. There is a very interesting temporary exhibition (1662-1796 paintings for the Qing emperors) up to July 24th 2006.
I love this museum, specially the Rotunda: Emile GUIMET has conceived this museum as a centre for study. Thousands of books were housed in this rotunda (neo-classical architecture), first dedicated to Religions. It was inaugurated in 1889, and now it is protected as a historical monument. At the top of the Rotunda we can see the first photos of China and Japan by Baron Stillfried.
The Salon de thé offers a range of Asian dishes, all along the day, and various teas of course.
I will surely come back, there is so much to see, and to meditate.
Even with the renovation of the entire museum completed the entrance to Musée Guimet can be a bit elusive. It is equi-distant between two métro stops, on a corner, with a small banner and doesn't look much different from the otehr surrounding grand mansions. But once you enter the delights of the Louvre's Asia collection will unfold for you.
I'm spending so much time on this museum because many people don't even know it exists. It is, in fact, the Asian "wing" of the Louvre and now that it has been completely renovated, it provides a superior museum experience.
It is near The Paris City Museum of Modern Art as well as the Museum of Man in Palais Chaillot so you could easily spend a "musem day" in the area!
Be sure to visit the museums website. They have a very sophisticated interactive gallery visit. It is well worth the long load time.
Especially helpful for parents with children is the part of the website designed for "les jeunes"
The artifacts on the main floor of the museum include Thailand, India, Cambodia and Vietnam. This Thai statue is of gilded wood.
It is the national museum of Asiatic arts -- in effect, a branch of the Louvre.
The Musee Guimet is one of Paris' best kept secrets and is an absolute must if you have an interest in Central Asian history. It is simply, in a very small space, one of the world's best Asian museums.
Of course much of what is in this museum was plundered from tombs and monuments. Even if the museum purchased or were given the artefacts legitimately - and I am sure that they did, of course - the question remains as to whether the best place for these treasures is really in Paris. The same can be said for many other museums in Europe and elsewhere.
The first stop should be the museum's bookshop, where you can buy a guidebook. The exhibits themselves are labelled but there are not many explanatory panels. In the case of the Guimet, there is really little space for them!
The exhibits have been very deliberately chosen to display the very best from the many countries, so don't expect to see vast quantities of artefacts from any one country. It is a wise policy, and the result is a stunning colection, where every piece is a real gem.
The museum is - unsurprisingly, given the geographical coverage - particularly strong in Buddhist art , and it is a good idea to start in the area which deals with early Buddhist art from Pakistan, known as the Gandharan style. Many are shocked to see clear Greek styling in this Asian art, an obvious connection between Greece/Macedonia and Pakistan existed at Gandhara! The sections on Afghanistan and Xinjiang show the Central Asian influences as the European style declined....as Buddhism slowly filtered through the Karakoram Passes into Xinjiang and then eastwards along the Silk Road. Buddhism came to China (then Korea and Japan) not by sea through south-east Asia, but on a camel's back.
If I had to pick a single star of the show, it would have to be the grey Bodhisattva Maitreya statue in the Gandharan style.
If, of course, you cannot get to Paris, then it is worth taking the virtual tour at the website which shows many of the pieces.