Discover the museum's collections

The museum of Fine Arts of Lyon is the largest French museum outside of Paris, in terms of the richness of its collections, and the importance of the bequests received at its creation, in the wake of the Revolution. The ongoing enrichment of the collection and its dynamic artistic program place the museum on the international art scene. The museum is located place des Terreaux, in the heart of the city center, in a former 17th century Benedictine abbey. Its cloister is now home to a quiet garden featuring sculptures by Rodin and Bourdelle, among others. The museum’s encyclopedic collections are exhibited in five sections and seventy galleries presenting artworks from all the major civilizations and artistic schools, from Antiquity to the present day. All year long, the museum offers its visitors an exceptional tour of 5 000 years of art history and organizes major temporary exhibitions, as well as cultural activities engaging all audiences.
Koré, Athènes, vers 550-540 avant J.-C.

The Antiquity department on level 1 contains archaeology from the Mediterranean Basin, from Pharaonic Egypt to the Roman Empire, and the rich Egyptian collections depict the lives of those who lived on the banks of the Nile over almost three millennia. Artifacts from the major civilizations of Mesopotamia, Iran, Persia, Syria and Cyprus are presented in the Near and Middle East gallery, and the other main section contains antiquities from Greece, southern Italy, Etruria and the Roman Empire. The Kore, a unique and exceptional example of Greek sculpture, is one of the Museum’s major pieces and there are also 6th century BC statues from the Acropolis of young people which were sculpted in honor of Athena, the goddess of Athens.


The department of Art Objects covers fourteen centuries of the history of decorative arts, from the 6th century to the 20th. All disciplines are to be seen there, including works in ivory, silver and gold, enamel, glass, carpentry and cabinet-making, with the ceramics section being the largest. This department also houses a section dedicated to Islamic art. It is one of the largest of its kind in France and there is also an exceptional collection of Far Eastern ceramics as well as examples of stoneware from Korea, China and Japan. An exceptional example of Art Nouveau, La Chambre de Mme Guimard was created by Mme Guimard’s husband, Edward Guimard, who was one of the most celebrated artists of this movement.


The Coins and Medals collection has been in the same room since its creation in the 1830s and it houses almost 50,000 coins and medals, jewels and other treasures from all eras. It is the second-biggest collection in France after the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. Notable masterpieces include a Vercingétorix gold coin and that of Dagobert, which was struck by Saint Eloi. Buried just before 1360 during the Hundred Years War, the Terreaux Treasure was discovered in 1993 during the building of an underground car park which is situated underneath the museum.

The first works of art that a visitor to the museum sees are the sculptures in the garden, and the main sculptures collection is to be found within the museum. It contains works by the world’s finest sculptors from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, including an exceptional collection of Italian works which can be seen on Level 1. There are also works from the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century which include several pieces by Joseph Chinard and Antoine Bourdelle as well as masterpieces by James Pradier and Auguste Rodin, which are to be found in the Chapel. The works of Rodin are one of the department’s most treasured highlights and it is one of the largest selections of his works in France after the Rodin Museum itself, which was created during his lifetime. The collection contains numerous pieces from the various creative periods of his life.

The Paintings department is the central attraction of Lyon’s Fine Arts Museum and it covers the whole of Level 2. Visitors are treated to a comprehensive collection of works by Europe’s finest artists from the 13th century to the present day.

XIII-XVIII centuries
Europe’s schools of artistic expression are represented by major collections from France, Italy, Flanders and Holland which include pieces by Tintoret, Pérugin, Véronèse, Rembrandt, Pierre-Paul Rubens and Jacob Jordaens. There are also exceptional works from Germany and Spain. XIXI century Paintings by the greatest masters of the XIXI century are housed on Level 2. There are works by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Théodore Géricault, Eugène Delacroix and Gustave Courbet. There are also some wonderful pieces by painters from Lyon, including Fleury Richard, Pierre Révoil, Hippolyte Flan¬drin and Louis Janmot. The Salon des Fleurs contains works from the

XIX century

which illustrate the museum’s links to Lyon’s former silk industry, including a collection of pieces featuring flowers which were painted to serve as models for silk motif designers. Other works from the major currents of European pictorial art include Impressionists and avant-gardists from the end of that century and pieces by Edouard Manet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh. Nave nave Mahana - ‘delicious days’ in Maori – is a masterpiece by Paul Gauguin. It was the first Gauguin to be acquired by a French museum, in 1913, which was before it became acknowledged as a masterpiece.

XXI century
The XXI century collections bring together masterpieces by Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Nicolas de Staël, Pierre Bonnard and Jean Dubuffet, and in 1997 a legacy by the actress and passionate collector Jaqueline Delubac resulted in the addition of works by Fernand Léger, Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon, thus transforming Lyon’s Fine Arts Museum into one of Europe’s most prestigious museums of modern art.
The museum’s collections are regularly enriched with masterpieces thanks to donations, legacies and acquisitions. Notable exmples over the last few years include works by Nicolas Poussin, Pierre Soulages, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Jean-Honoré Fragonard.