Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

L'Institut Du Monde Arabe-A "Must See" on a Visit to Paris

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

L'Institut Du Monde Arabe-A "Must See" on a Visit to Paris

Article excerpt

L'INSTITUT du Monde Arabe (The Institute of the Arab World) is not on every tourist's itinerary to Paris-but it should be. Not only does it house the French capital's pre-eminent cultural and learning center dedicated to the Arab world, but the exquisite building designed by Jean Nouvel-recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture-deserves a visit on its own merit. Located at 1 Rue des Fossés Saints Bernard in a small plaza on the left bank of the Seine, the institute consists of two main parts separated by a courtyard.

The south wall of the 11-story building which contains the library and media center features stainless steel photo-cell-activated diaphragms in traditional geometric Arabic designs. These control interior light conditions by opening and closing according to exterior light conditions. The other wing is a graceful curved seven-story structure resembling the river it fronts. Approaching the imposing edifice on a sunny day, a visitor is overwhelmed by the building's mesmerizing silver metallic façade.

Upholding its mission as a bridge between French and Arab cultures and as a locale to present the contributions of the Arab world in art, mathematics and science, the institute displays a variety of art and antiquities from Arab world countries. The permanent collection, including jewelry, ceramics, ancient carpets and manuscripts, is displayed on the fourth floor.

The institute also hosts temporary exhibitions. Last summer "Palestine: La Création Dans Tous Ses Etats" ("Palestine: the Creation in all its Forms") featured works of 19 artists from Palestine and the Palestinian diaspora. …

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