Focus on the newly renovated Musée de la Marine

After six and a half years of renovation work, the Musée de la Marine reopened its doors to the public on 17 November 2023. An opportunity to discover how this Parisian institution, which traces more than 250 years of French maritime and naval history, has reinvented itself.


“The sea is the future of mankind”. This is the message conveyed by the Musée de la Marine.

It took six and a half years of work to bring it back to life. “Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, Ambassador for the Poles and Maritime Issues and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Musée National de la Marine, said during the works: “The Musée National de la Marine has undergone a profound transformation in preparation for the forthcoming birth of the ‘Great Maritime Museum of the 21st Century’. “This cultural centre, which our country needs, will live up to its history and vocation: it will be the maritime soul of France”.

The museum has never been so new since it moved to the Palais de Chaillot in 1943. A number of challenges have prompted this transformation, including optimising the space to diversify the offer, improving the scenography, bringing the building up to standard and maximising the use of conference rooms, restaurants and the shop.


Ports of call…


In all, almost 1,000 rooms will form an integral part of the new tour. It is divided into four “ports of call”, featuring the museum’s flagship objects, and three “crossings”, describing the maritime issues of yesterday, today and tomorrow.


© Maxime Verret pour h2o architectes et Snøhetta


One of the stop-off points is the “Building and teaching” theme. This is where model boats are presented, from toy boats to pieces nearly five metres long. There’s also “Finding your way at sea: the arts of navigation”, which showcases maps, compasses and other lighthouse lenses, as well as modern technological instruments such as the Galileo satellite.

“Representing power: naval sculpture” focuses on the architecture and decoration of ships, testimony to the splendour of yesteryear and demonstrations of the power of empires. Finally, the last theme, “Painting for the King: Joseph Vernet’s views of French ports”, provides an opportunity to discover thirteen paintings depicting French ports in the second half of the 18th century.


© Boegly + Grazia for Casson Mann (architecture h2o architectes et Snøhetta)

… to crossings


In the first part of the exhibition, entitled “En passant par Le Havre: les routes de la consommation”, visitors can find out more about port activities and passenger transport.

“Storms and shipwrecks” focuses on the sometimes difficult conditions on board, as the weather changes. The exhibition also looks at solidarity issues related to the dangers of the sea.

Finally, the “France, a naval power: history and innovation” section looks at the maritime professions, the role of the French Navy, the Navy and the tactical and technological innovations driven by France.


© Boegly + Grazia for Casson Mann (architecture h2o architectes et Snøhetta)


It’s a chance to rediscover the treasures of this place, with its mix of history, fine art, science, technology and popular tradition. With its many objects, archives, ship models, testimonials and photographs, the Musée de la Marine promises an interactive voyage on the waves. It’s an experience for all the senses!

The museum has even collaborated with Studio Magique to design a unique marine olfactory signature, designed to immerse visitors in the world of the ocean and the sea. Created by Nathalie Lorson, Master Perfumer at Firmenich, the “Sillage de mer” scent is a subtle accompaniment to the tour. Ceramics to be scented with the fragrance are available in the Musée de la Marine bookshop. The perfect way to take a fragment of the sea home with you.



Front page photo: © Boegly + Grazia for Casson Mann (architecture h2o architectes and Snøhetta)

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