The museum was inaugurated in 1824 by Alexandre Brongniart, director of the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres, becoming the first museum dedicated to fine ceramic arts in the world. Denis-Desire Riocreux, a renowned painter at the manufacture became the director with a goal of collecting and studying fine ceramics from all over the world. Brongniart published his treatise on ceramic art and pottery in 1845. The following year, with Riocreux, he wrote Description méthodique du musée céramique de la Manufacture Royale de Porcelaine de Sèvres, which became the museum's first catalogue. The museum became independent of the factory in 1927 under director Henry-Pierre Fourest, and was attached to the Musée du Louvre in Paris for conservation purposes in 1934.
Beginning in 1975, the museum began seeking out modern ceramics, and the exhibition space was expanded with eight new rooms. The main floor exhibits ceramics from the East and West, from its origins to the sixteenth century. The first floor of the museum is dedicated to European earthenware and porcelain from the sixteenth century to the present.
The museum holds more than 50,000 objects, of which about 5,000 were manufactured by Sèvres. In addition to traditional fine European and Asian ceramics, has an especially noteworthy collection of ceramics created by leading 19th- and 20th-century contemporary artists.