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After a rich history as museum, the Musée du Luxembourg has now become established as one of the leading exhibition spaces in Paris, enabling its numerous visitors to enjoy the masterpieces of international renowned artists such as: Botticelli, Raphaël, Titian, Arcimboldo, Veronese, Gauguin, Matisse, Vlaminck, Modigliani and many more.
The Musée du Luxembourg was the first French museum to be opened to the public, in 1750. It was initially housed in the Palais du Luxembourg that Marie de Medici had built between 1615 and 1630. At that time, visitors could admire 24 paintings by Rubens celebrating Marie de Medici and around a hundred paintings from the Royal collection (Cabinet du Roi) by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Veronese, Titian, Poussin, Van Dyck and Rembrandt.
After these works were transferred to the Louvre, the Musée du Luxembourg was designated in 1818 a “museum for living artists”, or in other words, a museum of contemporary art. David, Ingres and Delacroix, among others, were exhibited there. The first Impressionist exhibition to be held in a national museum took place here, thanks to the Caillebotte request, comprising works by Pissarro, Manet, Cézanne, Sisley, Monet, Renoir, etc. This collection is now in the Musée d’Orsay.
The Musée du Luxembourg was closed after a national museum of modern art was built in the Palais de Tokyo in 1937, and only reopened its doors to the public in 1979. The Ministry of Culture put on exhibitions there highlighting France’s regional heritage and collections from provincial museums.