The best museums in Monte Carlo

Museums in Monte Carlo 

Monaco proudly carries the banner of dreams and glamour all over the world but it is, above all, a tourist destination with a remarkable heritage and an outstanding wealth and variety of museums and excursions.

Below is a selection of the main museums in Monte Carlo.

Automobile Museum

Located in the Terrasses de Fontvieille, this remarkable exhibition brings together almost a hundred cars of all ages, produced by the main European and American manufacturers, as well as six coaches belonging to H.S.H. Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

At the end of the 1950s, Prince Rainier III, who was passionate about cars, began collecting antique vehicles. Over the years, as acquisitions were made, the collection grew and very soon the Prince’s Palace garage became too small to house the hundred or so beautiful cars, some sports cars, others with a sculptural silhouette, with their majestic bodywork, their shiny bonnets and their majestic grilles.

In 1993, Prince Rainier III decided to reveal his treasures to the public. This exhibition, which covers an area of 5,000 m2 and is unprecedented in the world, presents a collection of around one hundred cars, from Dion Bouton’s 1903 to the 2013 Lotus F1.

Not forgetting brands and models such as Hispano Suiza, Rolls Royce, Linconl, Facel Vega, Delage, Delahaye, Packard, Humber, Napier, Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, the 2011 Lexus Royal Wedding, and more. Also on display are racing cars that have competed in the Monte-Carlo Rally and the F1 Monaco Grand Prix.

Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology 

It was founded by Prince Albert I in 1902 to preserve the traces of primitive humanity exhumed in the Principality and neighbouring regions.

The numerous collections that have been gathered in the Museum for more than a century represent the various phases of prehistory and regional protohistory. Most of the archaeological and palaeontological pieces come from the Principality and the bordering areas of France and Italy.

In 1960, the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology moved to a new building in the middle of the Exotic Garden. The new house of the Museum was designed by the Monegasque architect Louis Rué. Scientific research and archaeological excavations carried out by a succession of Museum teams (L. Barral, S. Simone) further enriched the institution’s collections.

The collections on display allow visitors to follow the great stages of the evolution of humanity through the various glacial and interglacial periods. They show that more than a million years ago, the French Riviera was already a privileged habitat for ancient ancestors.

Museum of Philately and Currency

The Museum, of contemporary design, houses rare stamps representing the postal history of the Principality, as well as all the documents that have been used in the process of printing stamps from the first stamp of Charles III in 1885 to the present day.

The Museum of Philately and Currency is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm (6 pm in July and August). The stamps and coins currently available and issued by the Principality are also sold in this museum.

The first Monegasque stamps were issued by Prince Charles III in 1885. The Principality was then a member of the Universal Postal Union and issued stamps under the Convention on Customs Union and Neighbourhood Relations concluded with France in 1865.

The first Monegasque coins were issued in 1640 by Prince Honoré II, referring to the Nice system introduced by the Duke of Savoy. In 1643, Louis XIV granted Honoré II the right to circulate his gold and silver coins freely in France, on condition that they be aligned with the corresponding French coins. This rule was extended in 1865 to cover all Monegasque coins until the introduction of the euro in 2001.

Naval Museum 

It’s the result of one man’s passion. From a very young age, Professor Claude Pallanca dreamed of sailing and meticulously built models of boats. During his military service, he was assigned to the Joan of Arc as a dental surgeon, where he made friends with many sailors and naval officers, and his passion for ships and the sea grew.

The Naval Museum of Monaco, founded in 1993, exhibits an extraordinary collection of more than 250 ship models, paintings and maritime objects, dating from antiquity to the present day and enriched by the loan of numerous antique models from the magnificent personal collection of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

In total, the collection includes more than 1,200 scale models, as well as hundreds of objects related to the navy. In addition, in recent years Professor Pallanca has expanded this unique collection with paintings illustrating ships and aircraft from the Second World War.

The best museums in Monte Carlo

New National Museum of Monaco (NMNM) 

It exhibits the heritage of the Principality of Monaco and promotes contemporary art works through temporary exhibitions at its two venues Villa Paloma and Villa Sauber.

This approach has its roots in a unique country whose history has always been characterized by dialogue between artistic, scientific and cultural disciplines and support for designers, thinkers and researchers.

Villa Paloma remains one of the most beautiful aristocratic residences in the Principality. Although one cannot be sure of the exact date of its creation, it is known that the Villa’s garden was entrusted to Octave Godard, the most talented student of the renowned landscape architect Edouard André (1840-1911).

Godard turned it into a classical-style garden, something of a speciality of his. The stained glass windows in the great entrance hall were made by the master glazier Fassi Cadet of Nice.

Villa Sauber is one of the last villas of the Belle Epoque in Monaco. The exact date of its construction is unknown, but it is well established that it belonged to the Blanc family in the early 1900s. The family played a key role in the development of the Société des Bains de Mer and the Casino de Monte-Carlo.

At that time, the area along the coast was known as the Quartier des Bas-Moulins, and the Larvotto beach did not yet exist. The newly acquired property extended to the road along the sea.

The painter Robert Sauber bought the villa from Edmond Blanc in 1904. Given the similarities between this building and the Opera House built at the same time by Charles Garnier, there has often been a temptation to attribute the villa to the famous architect of the Belle Epoque.

The Court Funds retained ownership of the villa for some 15 years until it was purchased by Nora Mac Caw in 1952. Mac Caw sold it to the Société Immobilière de l’Avenue Princesse Grace in 1957, from which the Société Immobilière Domaniale de Monaco finally bought it in 1969. The house and garden have remained the property of the State of Monaco ever since.

Oceanographic Museum

Built on the side of the legendary rock of Monaco, founded by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco’s great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert I, it has been guarding the oceans for over a century. As a result, the Museum is known worldwide for its expertise and has more than 6,000 specimens on display.

From the frills on the facades to the decoration of the halls, every aspect of the Museum’s architecture evokes the marine world. Since its opening in 1910, this 6,500-square-meter Temple of the Sea, which is open to the public, has been an international reference point for love, protection and awareness of the oceans.

The Hall of the Whales and the Hall of Prince Albert I, are a journey of oceanographic discovery, with many mounted specimens, photographs and archival documents, models, skeletons of marine mammals, among others.

The Hall of Oceanomania is the largest cabinet of curiosities in the marine world, created by the artist Mark Dion. In a space of 180 square meters, more than 1,000 objects from the Oceanographic Museum’s collections of fossils, chimeras, diving equipment, valuable books, among others, are exhibited.

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