Cernuschi Museum: Best Tips For Visiting In 2024

The Cernuschi Museum (in French, Musée Cernuschi), officially the Museum of Asian Arts of the City of Paris (in French, Musée des Arts de l’Asie de la Ville de Paris) is an art museum located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, in the former residence of Henri Cernuschi!

The Cernuschi Museum is considered one of the most important museums in France when it comes to the art and culture of China, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam, with a collection spanning almost five millennia – from prehistory to the present day!

So, do you want to know more about the Cernuschi Museum: Best Tips For Visiting In 2024? Keep reading!

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Cernuschi Museum
Cernuschi Museum

Brief History of the Cernuschi Museum

Henri Cernuschi was a republican, financier, and collector of Italian origin, who acquired around five thousand works of art during a prolonged stay in Japan and China, on his world tour between September 1871 and January 1873.

Upon his return to Paris, Henri Cernuschi had a private mansion built, where he would reside surrounded by his relics until he died in 1896. As a result, the building and collections were bequeathed to the City of Paris, which opened the Cernuschi Museum on October 26th, 1898.

How to Get to the Cernuschi Museum

The Cernuschi Museum is located at 7 Avenue Vélasquez, an avenue named after Diego Vélasquez – a Spanish Baroque painter active in the first half of the 17th century. From here, you’re very close to other points of interest, such as the Monceau Park (50 meters), the Nissim de Camondo Museum (300 meters), and the Jacquemart-André Museum (850 meters).

Due to its excellent location in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, the Cernuschi Museum is served by public transport: metro (line 2, Monceau and Villiers stations; line 3, Villiers station) and bus (lines 30 and 93, Malesherbes/Courcelles stop; line 84, Ruysdaël/Parc Monceau stop).

Opening Hours & Ticket Prices

The Cernuschi Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm, with the ticket office closing at 5:15 pm. In addition to Mondays, the Cernuschi Museum is closed on January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.

As the Cernuschi Museum is a municipal museum – one of the museums managed by the public institution Paris Musées – access to its permanent collection is free for everyone! Temporary collections cost €10 (normal rate) or €8 (reduced rate) and are free for under-18s.

Check all the practical information on the official Museu Cernuschi website!

Here’s the complete list of fourteen museums in the city of Paris:

  1. Maison de Balzac
  2. Maison de Victor Hugo
  3. Catacombes de Paris
  4. Crypte archéologique de l’île de la Cité
  5. Musée Bourdelle
  6. Musée Carnavalet – História de Paris
  7. Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (Palais de Tokyo)
  8. Musée de la mode de la Ville de Paris (Palais Galliera)
  9. Musée de la Vie Romantique
  10. Musée des Arts asiatiques de la Ville de Paris (Musée Cernuschi)
  11. Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris (Petit Palais)
  12. Musée du général Leclerc de Hauteclocque et de la Libération de Paris (Musée Jean Moulin)
  13. Musée du XVIIIe siècle de la Ville de Paris (Musée Cognacq-Jay)
  14. Musée Zadkine

What to See at the Cernuschi Museum

“Pagode” (Ground Floor)

The “Pagoda” (in French, “Pagode”) is a piece of porcelain and cobalt blue enamel, with gold metal details. In the first Cernuschi Museum of the late 19th century, this “Pagoda” occupied a central place in the so-called “Porcelain Room”.

Purchased in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen, this “Pagoda” is a miniature replica of the “Porcelain Tower or Pagoda of Nanking” (in French, “Tour ou Pagode de Porcelaine de Nankin”), a Buddhist pagoda destroyed by the Taiping Rebellion in 1856.

“Tigre” (Room 1)

The “Tiger” (in French, “Tigre”) is a lacquered and gilded wooden statue with glass-encrusted eyes that belonged to Sarah Bernhardt. The famous French actress bought it from Siegfried Bing, a Japanese art dealer and collector, and presented it at an exhibition held at the Georges Petit Gallery in 1883.

However, Sarah Bernhardt had to part with her “Tiger” for financial reasons shortly afterward. Legend has it that the celebrity sent a letter to Henri Cernuschi begging him to buy the statue from her, as she urgently needed the money!

“Tigresse” (Room 3)

“Tigress” (in French, “Tigresse”) is a bronze alcohol vase present in a room in the Cernuschi Museum called “The Shang Period” (in French, “La Période Shang”). Little is known about its origin, but it’s suspected that it was found in the Chinese county of Anhua.

Considered by many to be the most famous work in the Cernuschi Museum’s collections, “Tigress” is an enigmatic and mysterious piece. No one can even decipher whether it’s a representation of a predator amid a ritual sacrifice or an ancient animal protecting its clan!

“Tambour de Đông Sơn” (Room 4)

The “Đông Sơn Drums” (in French, “Tambour de Đông Sơn”) is one of the great archaeological finds of the Cernuschi Museum. Despite having been found crushed, these bronze drums had the same shape as others on display in this room dedicated to “The Zhou Period” (in French, “La Période Zhou”).

More than a musical instrument, the “Đông Sơn Drums” symbolized prestige and was reserved for clan leaders. The decorative motifs on the tympanum – star, birds in flight, frieze of pointed circles – represent the natural forces as sources of prosperity for the clan.

“Bouddha Amida” (Space B)

“Amida Buddha” (in French, “Bouddha Amida”) is an imposing bronze statue of Amitabha, one of the Five Meditative Buddhas and the principal Buddha of Pure Land Buddhism. Seated on a lotus-shaped pedestal, the figure is depicted with his right hand raised.

Henri Cernuschi purchased the “Amida Buddha” in 1871 after it had survived a fire that destroyed the temple where it was housed in Tokyo. As one of the largest Japanese bronze statues outside the country, this work had to be dismantled to be transported to Paris!

“Orchestre Équestre Féminin” (Room 8)

“Women Musicians on Horseback” (in French, “Orchestre Équestre Féminin”) is a group of eight terracotta figurines of knight musicians, present in the room “The Tang Dynasty” (in French, “La Dynastie Tang”). Dressed in Western-inspired clothing, they date back to the early 8th century!

The other seven young women hold different musical instruments – dizi (a straight flute with a vertical mouthpiece), konghou (a small harp), hengdi (a transverse flute), pipa (an unusually shaped lute), yaogu (an hourglass drum), paixiao (a pan flute), sheng (a harmonica with a curved mouthpiece).

“Bodhisattva Yongle” (Room 9)

The “Yongle Bodhisattva” (in French, “Bodhisattva Yongle”) is a gilded bronze statue from the early 15th century that was part of the collection of the British poet and writer Renée Vivien. Today, it’s the main attraction of the “Buddhism” (in French, “Le Bouddhisme”) room at the Cernuschi Museum!

The “Yongle Bodhisattva” is richly adorned with triple pendants on the chest and legs, a tiara of florets, and other jewels. This enlightened being is depicted standing and is one of the rare examples of large bronzes that have survived from the time of Yongle, the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty of China.

“Oreiller à la Pie” (Room 10)

The “Pillow with a Magpie” (in French, “Oreiller à la Pie”) is an octagonal sandstone cushion covered with a cream-coloured layer and painted with a brown layer under a transparent cover. You can see it in “The Sung and Yuan Dynasties” room (in French, “Les Dynasties Song et Yuan”).

The magpie is reputed to be an auspicious bird in China, which is why it’s often chosen as a decorative motif. In addition, the bird was a favorite theme for this type of cushion in the 12th and 13th centuries, to which plant ornaments were added on the sides.

“Mizusashi: Pot à Eau Fraîche en Forme de Cloche” (Room 11)

“Mizuzashi: Freshwater Jar in the Shape of a Bell” (in French, “Mizusashi: Pot à Eau Fraîche en Forme de Cloche”) is a water jar made of Arita porcelain, a renowned type of Japanese ceramic. Dating from the late 17th century, this object is part of the room “The Ming Dynasty” (in French, “La Dynastie Ming”).

“Mizuzashi: Freshwater Jar in the Shape of a Bell” was an essential part of the Japanese tea ceremony, allowing boiling water to be cooled until it reached the ideal temperature for brewing powdered tea. Both the shape and the decorative elements are of Chinese inspiration.

“Couple de Personnages Occidentaux” (Room 12)

“Western Couple Figurines” (in French, “Couple de Personnages Occidentaux”) is a pair of porcelain figurines adorned with enamels, which depict a couple – since the same floral motif appears on the man’s coat and the woman’s skirt.

Some believe that these “Western Couple Figurines” are King Louis XIV of France and Madame de Maintenon – whom he married in secret. This is because, in the early 18th century, the royal couple was depicted in numerous engravings and drawings very similar to these figurines!

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