Although most visitors go to Paris for Monet, Van Gogh, and Matisse, I was extremely excited to visit Art42 in the trendy Batignolles neighborhood (17th arrondissement) this winter. The space is incredibly unique. Founded by billionaire tech entrepreneur Xavier Niel, it's part-free coding school and part-art gallery. The musuem is completely free to visit as well, though one must reserve a spot on a tour led by a student of the coding school before visiting. Tours are typically given in the students' native French, but I was lucky enough to be led on a private English speaking tour with one of the students during my visit.
The museum hosts famous street artists like Banksy, Miss Van, Speedy Graphito, Shepard Fairey, and many more along with a private collection of Nicolas Laugero Lasserre's. They have over 150 pieces, with some site-specific works created just for the gallery as well. The museum is quite immersive, and I was literally led through work spaces surrounded by students studying or working on their laptops right next to the pieces I was checking out. The public-private juxtaposition of the art adds to the mystique of the street artists' creations. The point of street art is that it's meant to be explored and interacted with, rather than traditional artwork hosted behind a rope for viewing and labeled "please don't touch." Art42 keeps the street art spirit alive while preserving the artists' works, so that they remain available for all to enjoy. To reserve a time to visit and learn more about the school and its collection, click here.