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10 best museums in Monaco you should add to your bucket list

The tiny principality of Monaco on the French Riviera packs an outsized cultural punch. 

Though less than 1 square mile, Monaco is home to several world-class museums showcasing art, exotic cars, oceanography, stamps, antiquities and more. 

Monaco’s museums allow visitors to dive into subjects from ocean science to flashy supercars. 

Around every corner is a new trove of art, artifacts, curiosities and history waiting to be discovered in this tiny principality. 

From ancient history to modern masters, Monaco’s museums punch above their weight for impressive and eclectic collections.

Here are the top museums to visit in Monaco:

Oceanographic Museum

Monaco’s most famous museum is dedicated to ocean science and marine life. 

Opened in 1910, the Oceanographic Museum is home to one of the world’s most extensive collections of sea fauna. 

Displays at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco include skeletons of giant whales, a 1,200-pound turtle shell, fossils dating back millions of years and more.

You can also find chambers depicting ocean habitats and aquariums housing 4,000 marine species, many extremely rare. 

Visitors can observe sharks, tropical fish and sea horses and touch a living starfish in the hands-on discovery area. 

The museum seeks to educate the public about protecting marine ecosystems.

National Museum of Monaco

Situated in Monaco-Ville, the National Museum of Monaco traces the history and culture of the principality. 

The museum lies in the stately Villa Paloma near the Prince’s Palace. 

Permanent exhibits feature archaeological artifacts, paintings, sculptures, photographs and documents illustrating Monaco’s development from ancient times to today. 

Highlights include Greek and Roman archaeological pieces, antique maps of Monaco, Napoleonic-era furnishings and Monegasque folk costumes. 

You can also enjoy a range of temporary exhibitions focusing on Monaco’s heritage. 

The museum also manages several archaeological sites within the country.

Nouveau Musée National de Monaco

Devoted to modern and contemporary art, this museum in Monaco displays paintings, sculptures and installations by 20th and 21st-century artists. 

The eclectic collection includes works by Max Ernst, Alexander Calder, Yan Pei-Ming and Damien Hirst. 

One wing showcases artwork created by Princess Grace of Monaco, who studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. 

The museum also hosts traveling exhibits and has an art library specializing in European contemporary art. 

The striking building, designed by noted Chinese architect I.M. Pei, offers panoramic views of the sea and Monte Carlo.

Collection of Antique Automobiles of H.S.H. the Prince of Monaco

Exotic car enthusiasts will be enthralled by this impressive collection of over 100 vintage automobiles owned by Prince Rainier III. 

The private collection is partly displayed underneath the Prince’s Palace and includes a 1902 De Dion Bouton, Europe’s first serially-produced car.

Other royal vehicles on display include a 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, a 1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK, a 1955 Abarth sports car, and a massive 1929 Isotta-Fraschini. 

You can look up to these rare cars’ stylish designs and gleaming finishes. 

This museum offers a luxurious look at early automotive history.

Naval Museum of Monaco

The Naval Museum of Moncao is devoted to the seafaring exploits of the Grimaldi dynasty that has ruled Monaco for centuries.

You can find this small museum displaying artifacts, ship models, coins, medals, uniforms and paintings related to Monaco’s naval and maritime heritage. 

The museum highlights include the throne of Prince Albert I, paintings on 17th-century naval battles, navigation instruments and oceanographic voyages of Albert I. 

Exhibits also cover the history of the Monaco Yacht Club. 

The museum occupies two floors inside Monaco’s famous Oceanographic Museum.

Museum of Stamps and Coins

Philatelists and numismatists will appreciate this specialized museum showcasing rare postage stamps and coins.

The stamp collection includes 15,000 stamps issued in Monaco since 1885, featuring the reigns of various princes. 

Other highlights are local newspaper stamps used before official postage and stamps commemorating Monaco’s marriage to France in 1918.

The coin collection displays nearly 1,000 coins spanning 2,500 years of Monegasque history. 

Temporary exhibits have covered topics like pre-Columbian gold coins. Located in Fontvieille, the museum offers fascinating glimpses of tiny art pieces.

The Automobile Museum

The Automobile Museum
Image: Nytimes.com

This museum contains one of Europe’s most impressive collections of antique cars dating from the late 19th century to the 1970s. 

Over 100 vintage cars from over 30 automobile firms are displayed in thematic settings. 

The Highlights include a massive 1929 McFarlan tourer, a 1901 steam car, Jaguars raced by Sir Stirling Moss and more. 

Do not miss out on the Rolls Royce owned by Greta Garbo and Josephine Baker, a Ford Model T and the first Ferrari ever made. 

You can also find rotating exhibits focused on specific automakers like the French brand Bugatti.

Auto enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy learning about the evolution of automobile technology and design.

Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology 

Located high above Monaco in Rocher de Monaco, this small museum transports visitors back in time to humanity’s earliest eras. 

Displays illustrate the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods through Stone Age tools, pottery, jewelry and sculptures. 

One exhibit allows visitors to walk inside a reproduction of a prehistoric cave, complete with cave paintings. 

Skeletons, burials and other remains offer insights into Neanderthal life. 

Outside, a picturesque garden has full-scale menhirs (standing stones). 

Kids will enjoy the interactive displays bringing Monaco’s distant past to life.

Collection of SuperCars

Collection of SuperCars
Image: News.mc

Supercar fans can drool over an elite set of exotic modern sports cars at this museum within Monaco’s Autos Port. 

The private collection includes over 50 of the rarest supercars in the world, each valued at over $1 million. 

The collection includes the Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita, Pagani Zonda R, Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Lamborghini Veneno. 

Displayed cars change periodically as new acquisitions enter the collection. 

You can get close to these super-fast rides and imagine cruising along the French Riviera in ultimate style. 

This is a must-see for contemporary sports car enthusiasts.

Monte-Carlo casino

Monte-Carlo casino
Image: Gdmonaco.com

While not strictly a museum, the Monte-Carlo Casino’s lavish gambling rooms and ornate architecture let visitors step back into Monaco’s 19th century Belle Époque. 

The casino opened in 1863, and the Paris Opera House architect Charles Garnier designed its palatial rooms. 

Visitors can tour the gambling salons to admire the chandeliers, frescoes, sculptures, and stained glass ceilings – even if not gambling. 

A separate opera gallery displays portraits of performers and costumes from the opera season. 

The casino offers a glimpse into Monaco’s long tradition of opulence and entertainment.

Featured Image: Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

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