Fondation Cartier Paris – A Museum For Today's New Artists

Looking for an off-the-beaten track Paris museum experience? Let us introduce you to Fondation Cartier, an edgy, modern museum sprung from the imagination of the French luxury giant famous for their watches.

Launched in 1984 by Cartier, its lofty goal is to boost young artists' chances to reach a larger audience, and in a museum setting. Let's discover what you can expect at this open-air, living art museum on Boulevard Raspail in the 14th Arrondissement.


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Fondation Cartier & Jean Nouvel

Fondation Cartier

Although its proper name is the Fondation Cartier Paris Pour l'art Contemporain, locals just call it the Fondation Cartier. When it first opened, Cartier chose a location near near Versailles; a decade later the museum moved to a leafy location on Boulevard Raspail, a street in Paris with a long history. Naturally, they hired the best architect, Jean Nouvel, to design a modern glass and steel structure. (This was before Nouvel became more famous for buildings like Musée du Quai Branly and the Philharmonie de Paris.) In this airy, natural setting, modern exhibitions and artistic productions come to life.

Nouvel's aim was to marry the building's interior with the surrounding historic parkland. He accomplished this by creating a glass curtain wall around the garden, in addition to using glass for the building itself. The trees and and garden greenery blend seamlessly into the glass surfaces and add a dimension of naturalness to the setting. On the ground level, sliding eight-metre-high glass panels open to expose the lobby to the outdoor courtyard.

Now a creative space for artists Fondation Cartier is dedicated to promoting contemporary art. Each year, temporary exhibitions feature multi-media shows integrating painting, drawing, video, sculpture, performance art and photography. One of the most popular events is the Nomadic Nights, focused on the performing arts. Fondation Cartier's permanent collection has 1,500 works from more than 350 artists from around the globe.


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The Garden

The Garden

The garden of the Fondation Cartier, a modern woodland filled with wild flowers, was created by the German conceptual artist Lothar Baumgarten. Its name, the Theatrum Botanicum, dates back to the Middle Ages when monks would take grow and tend to medicinal and aromatic plants.

Nomadic Nights

Since 1994 the foundation's Nomadic Nights have featured contemporary artists presenting their works at the Fondation Cartier's exhibition spaces and garden for an evening spectacle. Events are scheduled throughout the year, so check the schedule to find out the upcoming events.

Architectural Tours

Fondation Cartier offers free guided tours during the week. After an overview presentation, the tour takes you on a discovery of the Jean Nouvel-designed building and its architecture. Check the website to find out when the next tour is offered.

Une Petite History of the Cartier Brand

Fondation Cartier

Cartier, the iconic French luxury brand, was founded in Paris in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier. It has a long royal history. King Edward VII called them "the jeweller of kings and the king of jewellers." For his coronation, he commissioned two dozen tiaras from Cartier.

After Edward VII's stamp of approval, commissions for Cartier products rolled in from royal families in Spain, Portugal, Russia, Greece, Serbia, Romania, Egypt and Monaco. Today, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, favors the Cartier Ballon Bleu watch.


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Fondation Cartier Resources

  • 261 Boulevard Raspail
  • 14th Arrondissement
  • Metro – Raspail or Denfert-Rochereau
  • Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11 AM to 8PM
  • Late night Tuesday until 10 PM
  • Website

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