From French avant-garde contemporary artworks to American pop art classics, Nice’s museums particularly excel at immersing visitors into the worlds of influential modern artists.
But art is not the only theme covered in the city's varied museum scene: explore everything from photography to archaeology with our pick of the best museums and galleries in Nice.
You can visit all of the venues listed below (except for the Chagall Museum) with the Pass musées Ville de Nice (€15 for 3 days of unlimited access to the city’s major museums and galleries). Alternatively, the French Riviera Pass (1 day €26, 2 days €38, 3 days €56) also grants you entry to Nice’s top museums, cultural attractions, activities and more.
The MAMAC: best for modern and contemporary art
Immerse yourself in the worlds of Yves Klein, Niki de Saint Phalle and other influential avant-garde artists from the École de Nice at the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC).
Set over two floors in a striking state-of-the-art building, Nice’s most acclaimed modern art museum also houses classic pop art and new realism pieces from prominent American and European artists. There are regular contemporary art exhibitions, including on the rooftop terrace which affords sweeping views of the city that are not to be missed.
The Musée Matisse: best for works from one of France’s most famous artists
One of France’s most famous painters, Henri Matisse (186–1954) lived in Nice for nearly 40 years. Marvel at one of the world’s largest collections of his work, including paintings, drawings, sculptures and paper cut-outs, at the Musée Matisse in Cimiez.
This stellar museum is housed in a stunning 17th-century red-ochre Genoese villa surrounded by olive trees, across the street from the Monastère Notre Dame de Cimiez, where Matisse is buried.
The Musée Masséna: best for history buffs
Built between 1898 and 1901, this sumptuous belle-époque villa now houses a fascinating museum dedicated to the history of Nice and the French Riviera.
With its idyllic seaside location and gorgeous gardens, it is one of the many architectural gems lining the city’s famous Promenade des Anglais. Delve into Nice’s origins and learn all about the history of tourism on the Riviera and the importance of the city’s epic carnival, which has been a highlight on the local events calendar since 1876.
The Musée National Marc Chagall: best for biblical masterpieces
Fans of Marc Chagall (1887–1985) will love this excellent museum, the largest in the world dedicated to the poetic universe of the Belarusian painter. The collection covers his entire career, from his beginnings in St Petersburg to the last years of his life on the French Riviera.
The bulk of the collection is made up of his paintings, including 12 interpretations of stories from Genesis to Exodus. Other Chagall works on display include a mosaic, sculptures and stained glass.
The Palais Lascaris: best for art and music lovers
Hidden away on a quaint narrow street of the old town, the unassuming Palais Lascaris is a sight to behold once you step inside its 17th-century walls. This baroque palace is an absolute must-see!
Walk up the monumental staircase adorned with frescoes and tapestries, before ambling through the sumptuous first-floor collection of period musical instruments (an impressive collection of over 500 instruments), sculptures, paintings and antique furniture. There’s also an 18th-century pharmacy on the ground floor.
The Musée des Beaux-Arts Jules-Chéret: best for fine art
This beautiful stately mansion houses an inspired collection of works spanning four centuries of art history. You can peruse pieces from famous Niçois artists, such as Corot and Fragonard, but also paintings and sculptures from world-renowned masters including Bonnard, Mossa, Dufy and Rodin.
Don’t miss the star collection devoted to the famous French painter and poster illustrator Jules Chéret (1836–1932). The museum also organizes excellent temporary exhibitions.
The Galerie Lympia: best new gallery
Nice’s coolest new(ish) gallery space is housed in a former galley slaves’ prison and clock pavilion down by the port. Opened in 2017 by the local government after major, costly renovation works, Galerie Lympia regularly hosts free exhibitions by prominent Niçois artists such as Patrick Moya, along with international artists.
The Musée de la Photographie Charles Nègre: best for photography enthusiasts
Housed in a vast former electrical factory on the Cours Saleya, this interesting museum showcases temporary monographic exhibitions of the biggest names in photography. The adjoining gallery draws on the museum's collection and offers exhibitions by regional artists.
The Musée Archéologique de Nice: best for Roman artefacts
If you fancy spending a little more time exploring Nice’s elegant Cimiez neighborhood after visiting the fascinating Musée Matisse, it’s worth checking out the city’s archaeological museum next door. Wander the grounds, which afford some lovely views of Matisse's villa and the adjacent Roman baths, all backed by rows of cypress trees.