The Palais de Tokyo is a unique space in the 16th arrondissement, not far from the Eiffel Tower and the Palais de Chaillot. Comprising both a museum of modern art and a contemporary art creative space, this building is the place to visit for lovers of art created during the modern era.
Originally built in 1937 as part of the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Téchniques, the building has been home to a variety of establishments, projects and creative spaces. During the Exposition, a retrospective of art from the Middle Ages to the present was exhibited. For about 40 years afterwards, the entire space housed a modern art museum, until the opening of the Centre Georges-Pompidou in 1977. The modern art museum remained in the eastern wing of the building while the west wing was used for everything from the Centre national de la photographie to Femis, a film school. The western wing remained empty in the late 90s until Catherine Trautmann, the minister of Culture and Communications, proposed a contemporary art space for this wing.
The Musée d’art moderne features a collection of works from the 20th century until today, with a focus on European, and specifically French, art. An entire floor of the museum is dedicated to the ARC project (Animation/Research/Confrontation Project). Founded in 1966, the project does research on contemporary art, as well as finances lesser known contemporary artists and gives them a space to exhibit their work. ARC is specifically interested in mediums not normally recognized by the contemporary space in the western wing, such as engraving and silk screening.
The contemporary space, normally referred to as just the Palais de Tokyo, considers itself an “anti-museum”. The concrete interior has an unfinished feel to it that is meant to be flexible and less formal than the usual art museum. It also distinguishes itself from other museums by its unusual opening hours, from noon until midnight. It is consecrated to contemporary art in all forms, from painting and sculpture to literature and dance, and is largely responsible for reconciling contemporary art with the city of Paris. After a major renovation campaign finished in April 2012, the space became one of the largest contemporary art spaces in all of Europe.
There are many other things other than art exhibitions to check out at the Palais de Tokyo. The on-site movie theater screen various films in conjunction with the various exhibits on view in the museums. Concerts and works using sound are often performed around the space of the west wing. There are also two restaurants on the site: Le Tokyo Eat, which specializes in French-style Japanese cuisine and the contemporary bistro Le Nouveau Restaurant. Be sure to check out the ever-changing garden and terace behind the Palais, created by the German landscape architects Le balto.Palais de Tokyo 13, avenue du Président Wilson, 75016 Paris Métro : Iéna or Alma Marceau
Bus : Lines 32, 42, 63, 72, 80, 82, 92
RER : Station Pont de l’Alma Musée d’art Moderne 10h-18h Tuesday-Sunday, Thursday nocturne until 22h Price: Free for permanent collection; temporary exhibits vary Palais de Tokyo/Site de création contemporaine Noon-Midnight everyday except Tuesday Price: 8 euros/6 euros