Montpellier is the up-and-coming city in the south of France. You’ll find many intriguing museums and galleries to visit while you’re here. See below for our top 10.
AD Galerie, situated in the Port Marianna area of the city, is just as modern and trendy as the neighborhood it is found in. Specializing in Free and Narrative Figuration artwork, this contemporary art space also harbors an interest in street art. This glass-fronted space presents the work of established as well as little-known artists in a bright and fresh environment. The 250m² space is split in two with half of it featuring permanent works by artists such as Hervé di Rosa and Cédrix Crespel and the other half dedicated to temporary exhibitions.
Musée du Vieux Montpellier
Galerie J. C. Reno
Galerie J. C. Reno in the heart of Montpellier’s city center is a hub of artwork from renowned artists hailing from this southern French city in particular and the neighboring region of Languedoc-Roussillon more generally. The gallery first opened its doors in 1984. Over the years it has presented permanent and temporary exhibitions of dozens of local artists. Many of the paintings and sculptures which adorn the walls of this small, local art gallery are for sale, so do not hesitate to inquire.
Montpellier’s Musée d’Anatomie belongs to, and is situated just around the corner from, the city’s medical university. The museum was first created in the 18th century and now contains more than 5,600 pieces linked to the study of human anatomy. With collections including wax castings of dissected body parts, malformations, skeletons and old surgical equipment this is not a museum for the faint at heart. But it is definitely an interesting day out. The anatomy museum was closed to the public for several years but has recently reopened. It offers guided tours which can be arranged at the Montpellier tourism office.
Pharmacie et Chapelle de la Miséricorde
The Pharmacie et Chapelle de la Miséricorde, which translates as the pharmacy and chapel of mercy, is Montpellier’s oldest and last apothecary. In 2001, the final Sisters of the Saint-Vincent de Paul charity who were residing at this address left the chapel. The monument historique is now managed by the Montpellier city council. The buildings are just off the central Esplanade Charles de Gaulle and you can wander around exploring the eclectic knick-knacks that have been left behind. The shelves upon shelves of ancient and original apothecary equipment are particularly intriguing.
Located just a few minutes’ walk from Montpellier’s main square the Place de la Comédie, the Musée Fabre is one of the most popular museums in the city. This ideally situated and easily accessible 19th-century art museum is Montpellier’s largest. It is home to a vast collection of artwork. The paintings and sculptures on display span many centuries and many different artistic movements. Of particular note are the paintings donated by a number of artists from the Languedoc-Roussillon region. One of the artists is the Montpellier-born painter François-Xavier Fabre, who donated many of his own works (and his name) to the museum.
This Montpellier art gallery, which opened in the city center in 2006, is the first of its kind in the city. Owned and curated by Nicolas Callu, the exhibition space is dedicated to the art of graffiti. It confronts the controversial question of what constitutes ‘real’ art head on, with stunning street art works covering the gallery’s walls. Montana Gallery (of which there are 10 around the world) has shown the work of acclaimed graffiti artists. Its much debated and much divisive subject matter make this one of Montpellier’s best galleries.
Galerie de l’Ancien Courrier
Another of Écusson’s cultural highlights, the Galerie de l’Ancien Courrier welcomes visitors all year for no cost. The gallery opened in Montpellier in 1990 and its aim ever since has been to showcase the best of local talent. The work of some artists, such as Bernard Calvet and Jacques Sauze, is permanently on display. Temporary exhibitions focus on works that illustrate and capture the breathtaking light and colors of the south of France. This gallery, hidden away in the small, winding streets of Montpellier’s old town is easy to miss, but you should check it out.
Musée de l’Histoire de Montpellier
It is the unusual location of this museum in the center of Montpellier that makes it one of the city’s most interesting places to visit. Situated in an underground vault underneath the Place Jean Jaurès, one of Montpellier’s most bustling public squares, you’ll find an eerie and otherworldly crypt that retraces the history of Montpellier from the 10th to the 16th centuries. The crypt itself dates from the 10th century. It now has different rooms fitted out with displays, artifacts and sound and visual animations to make the Montpellier of the past come back to life.
This contemporary art and exhibition space, just a stone’s throw from Montpellier’s Place de la Comédie, is open all year and is free to the public. The work that is displayed here often treats vastly different themes and topics and has included the oeuvres of nationally and internationally acclaimed photographers such as Parisian photographer Robert Doisneau. Exhibits are always changing so check out the Montpellier city website to see what’s on while you’re visiting. After you’ve finished browsing the exhibit du jour, the nearby park is also a great place to sit back and relax.
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