France is full of exceptional museums—1,218 to be exact. To insure that these institutions are always properly cared for, France established the Ministry of Culture in 1959. While a primary goal of this government organization is to protect the country's museums, promoting them has proven equally important. One way that the Ministry of Culture encourages attendance is through a wealth of accessibility programs, with the annual La Nuit des Musées (“Museum Night”) at the forefront.
This highly anticipated annual event occurs on the third Saturday of May—a date that coincides with International Museum Day. During this special evening, over 1,000 museums across France stay open late, allowing visitors to explore their collections after dark and participate in all kinds of activities, from readings to concerts. What makes this soirée even more special is that admission is free, enabling anyone to enjoy the event.
For 15 years, the Ministry of Culture has organized this night in an effort to attract new audiences. In addition to longer hours and free tickets, La Nuit des Musées promotes accessibility by welcoming guests of all ages. This includes children, who are sure to enjoy “theatrical tours, illuminations, treasure hunts, creative workshops,” and other age-appropriate entertainment.
This year, La Nuit des Musées falls on May 18. While this fete is particularly prolific, France is not the only country that participates. Thirty other European countries will host similar events on the 18th, making this a continent-wide celebration!
To find out which museums are participating in France and the rest of Europe, you can explore an interactive map on the Ministry of Culture's website.
Every year, over 1,000 museums across France treat visitors to free admission and late-night hours on La Nuit des Musées. Here are just some of the world-famous institutions participating in Paris alone!
Musée du Louvre
This year, the Louvre‘s sprawling permanent collection will offer free admission from 6 pm to 12:55 am. Until 8 pm, students participating in La Classe, l'Oeuvre—an educational program organized by the Ministry of Culture—will share their projects and presentations.
Admission to the Pompidou, Paris' premiere modern art museum, will be free from 8 pm until 1 am. Visitors are invited to explore the famous ground-floor forum, Studio 13/16 (a workshop for teenagers), and the museum's 4th and 5th-floor galleries.
The Musée d'Orsay will offer free tickets to its permanent collection and special exhibition, Black Models, from 6 pm to 12 am. This year's event will include hourly presentations, dance performances, and drawing workshops.
Musée de l’Orangerie
This year's soirée at the Musée Picasso invites visitors to see the museum's permanent collection and special exhibition, Calder-Picasso, free of charge from 6 pm to midnight. Live music will also waft through the museum's beautiful gardens!