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Six Must-See Museums in Nice, France

by Lauren Mulvey

World famous artists including Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, Gaugin, Chagall and plenty others have been drawn to this city for centuries.

Written by Lauren Mulvey (Image: International Museum of Naïve Art Anatole Jakovsky, photo by Robert Adams)

For those looking to explore this region steeped in artistic inspiration, here are six must-see museums in Nice that are sure to inspire all art lovers.

Art enthusiasts and tourists alike will find that the city of Nice, along the bright blue Côte d’Azur, is brimming with art history, and culture. In fact, world famous artists including Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, Gaugin, Chagall and plenty others have been drawn to this city for centuries, attracted to its romantic scenery, a perfect blend of sun and sea. For those looking to explore this region steeped in artistic inspiration, here are six must-see art museums in Nice.


Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art featuring works by Niki de Saint Phalle (Photo by Robert Adams)

Modern and Contemporary Art Museum (MAMAC)

Located just outside of Nice’s Old Town next to Place Garibaldi is the MAMAC, a treasure for art lovers visiting France’s Côte d’Azur. Each year the museum hosts a wealth of exhibitions spanning from the 1950s to present day that explore European New Realism, the American expression of assemblage art, and Pop Art. Today their collection boasts 1,400 works by 370 artists. Though exhibits are often changing seasonally, two permanent showcases make tribute to the works of Yves Klein, a 20th century French artist who piloted the Nouveau realism, and Niki de Saint Phalle, a French-American sculptor and multimedia artist. Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Monday).


Nu aux jambes croisées by Henri Matisse, 1936 (Photo by Robert Adams)

Musée Matisse 

The Henri Matisse museum was established in 1963, after the city of Nice acquired the Villa Garin de Cocconato or the “Villa des Arènes” an historic, centuries old villa.  Since then, it has been renovated to better accommodate an expanding collection of the painter’s works. The version of the museum that you visit today was reopened in 1993. Currently, the museum exhibits a collection of works entitled “Matisse in the 1930s. Through the lens of Cahiers d’Art,” which seeks to highlight this decade as a period of transformation in his work. The museum’s permanent collection displays works from the artist’s studio including 31 paintings, 454 drawings and prints, 38 cut-outs and 57 sculptures from the course of his career. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Tuesday).


Musée National Marc Chagall (Photo by Robert Adams)

Musée National Marc Chagall 

The Marc Chagall museum in Nice offers the largest collection of works by the painter and houses 17 paintings that illustrate the biblical message from the books of the Old Testament. For those seeking artworks with a spiritual theme, this museum is located just outside the heart of the city. Marc Chagall was a Russian-French painter who explored many art styles including surrealism, cubism, expressionism, modern art and more. Today the museum houses more than 400s paintings, drawings, wash drawings, gouaches and pastels. Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the museum from now until September 4, 2023. Summer hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Tuesday).


Villa Massena (Photo by Robert Adams)

Villa Masséna 

This 1898 estate is just steps away from Nice’s clear blue waters and is home to beautifully ornate Empire-style reception rooms that are clad in their original decor on the ground floor. It was famous for being the winter home to the grandson of one of Napoleon’s greatest generals, André Masséna. On the first floor, a museum exhibiting Napoleon’s memorabilia, paintings and historic photos of Nice can be found. On the top floor, special exhibitions are hosted. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Tuesday).


Photo by Pavel L

Musée de la Photographie 

Photography admirers will enjoy this museum at the heart of Old Town at Place Pierre Gautier. Showcasing temporary exhibitions from individual artists or thematic showings with a range of photographers, this museum will always have something new for visitors. Current exhibitions include American photographer, Jeffery Conley’s “An Ode to Nature,” displaying 52 prints through September 24. Also on display through September 10 is Patrick Hanez’s “Retrospective,” a collection of images inspired by the sea. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Closed Monday).


International Museum of Naïve Art Anatole Jakovsky (Photo by Robert Adams)

International Museum of Naïve Art Anatole Jakovsky  

One of our favorite museums in Nice, the International Museum of Naïve Art displays works spanning the 18th century to the present in naive art, or art created by untrained artists. The naïve art movement is described by London’s Tate Museum as being characterized by childlike simplicity of execution and vision” and thus offers a distinctive museum experience. Here you can find works from naïve movement icons such as Henri Rousseau, André Bauchant, Camille Bombois and plenty of other international artists. Take your time exploring this unique and fascinating museum that is sure to inspire and amuse you at every turn. Hours: 10 a.m .to 12:30 p.m. / 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Tuesday).

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