Expect to discover art from the antiquity up to the present when you visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, a museum that is worldwide recognized for its collection. Besides the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso and Peter Paul Rubens, the painting “The Newborn“ by Georges de la Tour counts as one of the highlights of the exhibition. Located in the Palais Universitaire, which was built in the 19th century, the museum also impresses with its architecture. The spacious rooms with the high ceilings make the works come nicely into play.
From antiquity to the present
Your journey through art history reaches back to antiquity. The area of ancient Egypt is dominated by a stele that the museum acquired in 1871. In the area of the ancient Greeks you will find ceramics from the Attica as well as the Corinthians. Pieces made from bronze and ceramics exemplify the art of the Etruscans. The Roman Age is also illustrated by pieces made from bronze. What is more, you can admire finely laboured gemstone reliefs from a variety of different cultures.
Expect to see a manifold collection of paintings as part of the exhibition. The 16th century section especially emphasizes on Venetian paintings. The collection of works of the 17th century, the so-called “Grand Siècle“, is the pride of the museum with rare paintings of Georges Lallemand and Charles Errard. Neo-Classicism and Romanticism are presented through paintings by Léon Cogniet. The change into modern age painting is shown by works of Johan Barthold Jongkind or Eugène Boudin. The 20th century section includes three paintings by Pablo Picasso as well as works by Cubists and Surrealists, for example Juan Gris, Yves Tanguy and František Kupka. The exhibition of contemporary art focuses especially on abstract works, like for example illustrations made by Jean-Paul Riopelle or Sam Francis. Artists from the region, like Jacques de la Villeglé or Raymond Hains, also have their place here.
Great masters of art
The Musée des Beaux-Arts also accommodates a huge collection of drawings, over 1.000 in numbers. Exhibited amongst them are drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli and Albrecht Dürer. On top of this, the museum also offers numerous temporary exhibitions.
If you are planning to visit the museum for a full day, keep in mind that it will be closed on Mondays and opens for the whole day only Tuesdays from 10.00 to 18.00. From Wednesday through to Sunday the museum is closed between 12.00 and 14.00.
The museum was founded during the French Revolution in 1794. It originally showed works of art that were confiscated from churches and civil buildings. A big part of it was made up of the collection of Christopher Paul de Robien, who was the former parlamentary president of Brittany. His artworks stemmed from all over the world and included paintings and sculptures – from the ancient Egyptians and Greeks up to Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt. Robien's collection at its time counted as one of the biggest in Europe. Since 1855, the museum is located in the newly built PalaisUniversitaire. In the 1950s, a comprehensive renovation took place, which included the removal of damages from the Second World War. At that time, the collection was also extended by works from the 20th century.
- The day pass at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes is €6 making it one of the 10 cheapest tourist Attractions in France.
How to get there
The museum is located in the centre of Rennes. You can park your car at the car park Kléber near the Jardin Saint Georges on Rue Gambretta.
By public transport:
There are a variety of options for getting to the museum by public transport. The Metro line A stops at the nearby station “République“. The bus lines 4, 6, 40, 50, 64 and 67 stop at “Musée beaux-arts“ and line 8 stops at the station “Lycée Zola“.