Erin Hagen

Museum of Music

Paris’ Museum of Music, located in the Cité de la Musique, celebrates the history of Western and art. With one of the largest collections in the world, the collection features instruments from the 17th century onwards. In this article we’ll explore the history behind the Paris Philharmonic and the Cité de la Musique, the Museum of Music’s collection and services, and prepare you for your visit!

Cité de la Musique

Also known as Philharmonie 2, the Cité de la Musique was founded in 1995. Following President François Mitterrand’s initiative to build the structure, architect Christian de Portzamparc, was chosen to lead the project. He wanted to create a space that feels like a “dreamlike town”, a building that invites growth and movement. The Museum of Music is located in a separate space within the Cité de la Musique. Also, the building has the following facilities:

Concert Hall

The Concert Hall hosts a variety of performances in different genres of music. The seating capacity varies from 650 to 1,600, depending on the set up. Interesting features of the Concert Hall include: moveable seats, a mobile stage, the possibility of adding other stages as well, and small light boxes in the balcony section which allows for stunning colour changes!

The Amphitheatre

This space is a more intimate environment, and only has a 250 capacity. As the room is smaller, every seat has a great view! Also, it is ideal for chamber music concerts and recitals. Because the Amphitheatre is climate controlled, it is excellent for fragile and older instruments. Not to mention, also for the comfort of the spectators during the summer months!

The Museum of Music

The Museum of Music’s origins date back to 1793. At that time, it was called ‘The Music Conservatory’. Their collection of musical instruments began collected began during the French Revolution. Later, the exhibit was opened to the public in 1864. In 1997, the objects were transferred to their new home in the Cité de la Musique.

Created by architect, Franck Hammoutène, the Museum is a welcoming space for learning, exploration, and events. As well as hosting temporary exhibitions, the venue regularly offers performances and workshops alongside its permanent collection.

The temporary exhibitions vary in topic, but always center around the theme of music, whether it be classical or contemporary. Past examples of temporary exhibitions include: The Third Reich and Music, Paul Klee Polyphonies, Song of the River: the Harps of Central African, Europunk, Great Black Music or monographs such as Serge Gainsbourg, Frederic Chopin, Miles Davis, John Lennon, Georges Brassens, and David Bowie is.

Musicians at the Museum
The Museum hosts performances by musicians everyday in the exhibition rooms.

Touch Music
An interactive, fun and tactile exhibit, guests are invited to touch the instruments in order to learn more.

Concert Walks
Every Sunday afternoon, the Museum hosts small concerts as well as musical workshops. The themes generally center around the exploration of music, history, and society.

The Collection

The Music Museum has a grand total of 8,455 instruments in its collection, including works of art. However, only 1,000 objects can be displayed at a time. As well as examining the history of Western music, the Museum also chronicles the dominant musical cultures of the world. Also, audio guides are provided and highly recommended. Enhancing the experience, visitors can enjoy historical context, as well as music clips.

The collection contains extraordinary and rare instruments in the following categories: Keys, Strings, Wind, Percussion Instruments, Electronic Instruments, Other Instruments, and Works of Art.

The Paris Philharmonic

Opened in 2015, the Philharmonic (also known as Philharmonie 1) is one of the most unique structures in Paris! Designed by Jean Nouvel, the building features 340,000 aluminium birds on the outside. From a distance, and with the reflection of the sun, it almost looks like snake skin! The total cost of the project was an incredible 381 million euros. Although the venue mostly hosts classical music concerts, they also offer jazz and other international music performances. Since it’s opening, the Paris Philharmonic and the Cité de la Musique have merged.

The Paris Philharmonic has the following spaces:

Concert Hall
With an adjustable stage, the Concert Hall has a capacity of 2,400 capacity for a symphonic set up, and a 3,500 capacity for a contemporary set up.

Temporary Exhibition Space

No to compete with the Museum of Music, the Philharmonic regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that compliment performances in the musical calendar. Also, they offer a variety of activities, workshops and courses.

Educational spaces

Located on the main floor, there are three classrooms, two musical awareness rooms, five group practice rooms, five individual practice rooms, a small recording studio, and a break room.

The Studio

The Studio is an orchestral rehearsal space. Also, it hosts baroque music concerts and dance performances.

Conference room

With a seating capacity of 170, the Conference room hosts seminars, meetings, film screenings, and of course, conferences!

Interesting to Note: The Paris Philharmonic commissioned an organ made by Austrian craftsman, Rieger Orgelbau. It is made up of 6,055 pipes with 91 stops. Heavy metal!

Restaurants and Cafes

Le Balcon, Panoramic Restaurant

Located on the top floor of the Paris Philharmonic, Le Balcon offers an amazing panoramic view of Paris! Also, they offer a modern bistrot menu. When the weather permits, be sure to enjoy their rooftop terrace overlooking the Parc de la Villette.

Hours of Operation:

Monday- CLOSED

Tuesday-Saturday: : open from 6:30 p.m. onwards

Sunday- CLOSED

L’Atelier - Café

On the main floor of the Philharmonic, L’Atelier - Café offers high quality ‘food on the run’. For example, they serve smaller meals, salads, and sandwiches. Conveniently, you can eat there or order take-away.

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Sunday - 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

*Open until 8:30 p.m. evening performances.

Le Café Des Concerts

Le Café Des Concerts offers traditional French cuisine with a modern twist. The decor of the restaurant also speaks of the elegance of simplicity. Also, the impressive view faces the setting sun, and provides a dining experience that you won’t soon forget!

Hours of Operation:

Monday - Friday - 12:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. // 6:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Saturday - Sunday- 12:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. // 6:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Bookstore and Boutique

Located near the main entrance of the Cité de la Musique, the bookshop sells several thousands of CDs and DVDs, covering all genres of music. In addition, they have a variety of books about music throughout the ages.

Hours of Operation:

Tuesday - Friday - 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Saturday - Sunday - 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

*Open until 8:30 p.m. on concert nights.

Your Visit to the Museum of Music

Whether you are a classical music aficionado, musician, or want to learn more about the history of music, we highly recommend visiting the Museum of Music! After your trip to the Museum, don’t forget to take a stroll in the Park de la Villette!

How to get there: We recommend taking the metro line 5, exit at ‘Porte de Pantin’.

Address: 221 avenue Jean-Jaurès, 75019, PARIS

Hours of Operation:

Monday- CLOSED

Tuesday to Friday – 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday – 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Ticket price: 8€

Free Entry with the Paris Pass!

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