Musée du Petit Palais

Avignon, France

The Musée du Petit Palais is a museum and art gallery. It opened in 1976 and has an exceptional collection of Renaissance paintings of the Avignon school as well as from Italy, which reunites many 'primitives' from the collection of Giampietro Campana. It is housed in a 14th-century building at the north side of the square overlooked by the Palais des Papes.

Named Petit Palais to distinguish it from the Palais des Papes, the original structure was built during the period of the Avignon Papacy by Cardinal Bérenger Fredoli the Elder in around 1318-20. The palace and a few neighbouring buildings were bought on de Frédol's death in 1323 by Cardinal Arnaud de Via, nephew of the reigning Pope John XXII. When de Via died in 1335 Pope Benedict XII bought the building for use as the episcopal palace. The subsequent building work created an interior close to that of the present configuration with four wings around a cloister and a service court.

The building suffered during its use from 1396 as a fortified citadel during the Western Schism, and was a wreck by the time the war ended in 1411. In the second half of the 15th century, Bishop Alain de Coëtivy and his successor, Giuliano della Rovere (the future Pope Julius II) carried out restoration work, giving the Palace more or less its present appearance by 1503. Della Rovere arrived in Avignon in 1474, having been made bishop of Avignon and papal legate of Avignon by his uncle Pope Sixtus IV. He added new south and west facades in Italian Renaissance style and, in 1487, a tower (which collapsed in 1767). The Palace became known as the Palace of the Archbishop when the city was promoted to an archbishopric soon after della Rovere took office.

During the French Revolution, the palace was nationalised and sold off, becoming a Catholic secondary school in 1826 and then in 1904, with the separation of the church and the state, a professional and technical school.

The collection includes 327 works by Italian and French primitive or early-renaissance painters such as Sandro Botticelli or Vittore Carpaccio. There is also 600 sculptures including the effigy head from the tomb of Antipope Clement VII.



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Rue Ferruce 6, Avignon, France
See all sites in Avignon


Founded: 1503
Category: Museums in France


4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Terry Firkin (13 months ago)
Very good art gallery of the Papal Palace. Wonderful collection and some beautiful works by Botticelli.
Craig Bromberg (2 years ago)
On the north side of the Place du Palais and immediately adjacent the large Palais des Papes is the Musee du Petit Palais, a smallish museum that focuses on religious paintings on wood screens and panels (which would normally be placed within various churches) as well as some scultupres. The museum is well organized, laid out and the 14th century palace that it is situated in as interesting in its own right. The collection is narrowly focused so would appeal mostly to a particular crowd. The museum is free and since one is normally in the area to see the Palais des Papes, it is worth the 20 minute visit.
Caroline Findlay (2 years ago)
Although this museum is free, most of the rooms/works of art were closed off. Thankfully I did get to see Botticelli’s Madonna & Child, but whereas I’d normally spend a good couple of hours in an art gallery, I was done in less than half an hour. I was also looking forward to enjoying a coffee in the courtyard, but the café was closed and it looked like they were renovating or getting rid of it!
Carly L (2 years ago)
Opening hours do not match the signs at the front OR the city map. When I visited, Tourist Information said the daily lunch break was from 1-2 (as per the city map). When I arrived, the museum advertised they were open non-stop until 7. However, by “open” they don’t mean you can see anything, as the galleries are closed for a staff lunch from 12-1. People visiting Avignon have limited time and should be able to plan their visits based on accurate information. Again, I visited at 12:15 and could not see any of the art. Waste of time.
J L (3 years ago)
It’s free which is good because most of this museum is closed off
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