French Museum Architecture Museums are the mark of civilization on a city. Whether repositories of the past or tools for communicating about the world around us, they play a vital part in cultural life, reaching out to the local inhabitants and to visitors from around the world. Both showing and on show, presenting and representing, museums leave a lasting impression of a major city and can forge the reputation of lesser-known localities, literally putting them on the tourist map. As such, they are also architectural and urban symbols whose influence extends far beyond that of the collections they house, making the architect′s role a primary one. France′s rich and varied museum offerings range from establishments dating back to the late seventeenth century to groundbreaking structures still under construction. Designing a museum involves not only conceiving the best way to reveal their collections, but also how to welcome and serve visitors, and how to incorporate the spaces needed for behind-the-scences work of curating, restoring, cataloguing, and storing.