Believe or not, in Paris, there is a museum exclusively dedicated to fairs. It is called the Musée des Arts Forains (Museum of Fair Arts), and it has existed since 1996. The museum houses private collections of art from fairs as well as objects that were once part of fairs.
The thing that makes this museum so special is that these objects and works of art all originate from between 1850 and 1930, enabling visitors to go back in time and experience what a fair would have been like in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Normally, the Museum of Fair Arts is not open to the public, with tours being limited to large groups that have booked in advance. However, from December 26, 2012 until January 6, 2013, the Musée des Arts Forains is opening its doors and allowing everyone to discover its interesting collections.
This means that a winter visit to Paris can include a trip to this fantastical — and sometimes surreal — museum that has to be witnessed to be believed. Old pieces from fair rides, set pieces from theater and music shows and other curious objects will be on display at this time.
The wide open layout of the museum makes it ideal for this type of unconventional collection, and visitors can freely explore the 1,800 square meters of the space. Moreover, the lighting and sound have been scripted to create the appropriate ambiance for a fair. Visitors can even hop on a few of the turn-of-the-century rides that actually still work.
The Musée des Arts Forains is located at the Pavillons de Bercy, in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. Guests staying at Hôtel de la Tour Maubourg should not miss their chance to explore this unique world. The museum will be open every day from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Musée des Arts Forains
53 avenue des Terroirs de France, 75012
Metro: Cour Saint-Émilion
Tickets: 12 euros