The “musee Matisse”is housed in the 10 rooms of the ‘Villa des Arenes’ – a 17th century Genovese style villa, which is located in the heart of an olive grove, part of the gardens of Cimiez… In this tranquil park, where mothers watch their children riding bicycles and scooters, or playing among the trees, men play boules, and people sit on the grass eating lunch and enjoying the sunshine… sits the completely restored pink villa, which houses the personal collection and effects of modernist artist Henri Matisse.
For visitors who’ve seen Matisse’s work housed in MOMA (the Museum of Modern Art in New York), or the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, or the Tate Gallery in London, or any of the other museums around the world where his art is housed, one of the most interesting things about the Matisse museum in Nice is being able to see some of the pieces he included in those works of art.
Because here in the Matisse museum, where both Matisse, and later his wife and other family members have donated not only paintings, sculptures and sketches, but also objects he used in his paintings, souvenirs, pieces of furniture and other personal items – which are all a part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Matisse moved to Nice in 1917, because, as he put it, “In order to paint my pictures, I need to remain for several days in the same state of mind, and I do not find this in any atmosphere but that of the Cote d’Azur.”
Included in the impressive permanent collection are 68 paintings and gouache decoupages, 236 drawings, 218 engravings, 57 sculptures (which comprises almost the complete collection), 14 illustrated books, 187 objects which belonged to the painter himself, plus various silk screens, tapestries, stained glass windows, ceramics and numerous archives. This gives visitors a fascinating glimpse into the history and path Matisse took as an artist throughout his life as well as the opportunity to see behind the artist, at the man.
The museum is open year round, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. – note that entrance to the museum closes at 5:30. It’s closed on Tuesdays and the following bank holidays: January 1, Easter Sunday, May 1, December 25th.
What you need to know:
The entrance is free, and it’s handicapped accessible.
Guided tours (for 1 -15 people) are offered for 5 euros per person in the following languages: French, English and German. (It’s best to call the museum to set this up and check availability. +33 (0) 4 93 53 40 53
The museum is located at:
164 Avenue des Arenes
By bus: Take buses: 15, 17, 20, 22, 25 Stop: ‘Arenes/Musee Matisse’
By foot: There are four entrances to the park – on the ‘avenue des Arenes de Cimiez’, the ‘boulevard de Cimiez’, the ‘avenue du Monastere’, and the ‘place du Monastere’.
By car: Parking is available along the ‘avenue du monastere’ or the ‘place du Monastere’.
The museum offers a nice gift shop, but they don’t accept credit cards.