Palais de Tokyo, Paris of course!

So to continue with the mood to showcase seldom asked place of Paris or as once site once said, off the beaten path venues; let me bring you to my fav 16éme arrondissement again. The weather here is the same cloudy rainy cool 13C and calm at least until next weekend! I will be off to Asia again ::)

Let me tell you about a nice museum palace of great grandeur and beauty that I passed many times by it,and seen it before the renovation. It is a nice place to see indeed. Of course I will be telling you a bit about the Palais de Tokyo!

The Palais de Tokyo is a place for the contemporary and modern art exhibits on the west wing right along the Seine on avenue de New York and  Ave du Président Wilson.  On the east wing it houses the museum of Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. The building was a series of 3 built in 1937 during the International Exposition.

The Palais de Tokyo, whose original name is “Palais des Musées d’art Moderne” or the palace of modern arts museum, designates a building dedicated to modern and contemporary art. It is located at 13, Avenue du President-Wilson in the 16éme arrondissement or district of Paris. The building in question is referred to as the “Palais de Tokyo”, the name of the quai de Tokio (the present Avenue de New York) with its southern façade, a wharf on the edge of the Seine river. Composed of two wings, the palace houses in the west wing a center of contemporary art, the Palais de Tokyo, while the east wing, owned by the city of Paris, houses the Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris. The outer shell of the building is completely built in marble. The exhibition area is one of the greatest for contemporary art on the international stage.   You can reach it by metro stations Alma – Marceau and Iéna on line 9. Also, Bus lines 32, 42, 63, 72, 80, 82, and 92 as well as RER C Station Pont de l’Alma.


A bit of history I like

In 1932, faced with the smallness of the Luxembourg Museum, and after the abandonment of the project for a city of museums at the site of the Trocadéro, the idea of building a museum of modern Art of the city of Paris was thought of. In 1934, the State decided to build a museum of modern art as well. The city of Paris, owner of the land, committed to guarantee the loan for the financing of the International Exhibition of 1937, in return, the State finally accepts to assume the construction of two museums of modern art, while committing to hand over one of them to the city of Paris to relieve the Museum of the Petit Palais . Therefore,  that of the State to the west and that of the city of Paris to the east.

The land chosen includes part of the site of the former carpet factory of the Savonnerie so named because it had settled in 1627 in an orphanage whose residents made soap. The factory was transferred in 1826 in the premises of the Gobelins factory and the site was used by military handling or depot of military supplies in buildings rebuilt in 1836. These buildings burned down in 1855 and during WWI were rebuilt on two occasions.

On 24 May 1937, President Lebrun inaugurated the “Palais des Museums d’art Moderne”, replacing the Luxembourg Museum, which was then closed. During the exhibition, the palace houses a retrospective of French art since the Middle Ages, bringing together more than 1300 works from provincial and foreign museums. The collections of the city of Paris are presented tentatively in the East Wing from 1940, while the National Museum of Modern Art opens its doors for a few months in the West Wing on August 6, 1942, with a third of the collection brought back from the deposits of the occupied area, the real inauguration taking place however only on June 9th, 1947. The building later took the name “Palais de Tokyo” in reference to the wharf of the same name.

In 1948, it was inaugurated a monument in memory of the fighters of free France on the forecourt of the Palais de Tokyo. This one consists of a bronze statue, work of Antoine Bourdelle, representing “France”, at the foot of which is engraved a verse of Charles Péguy “Mother behold your sons who fought so much” and lower, on the cross of Lorraine the dedication “To the volunteers of the Free French Forces dead/for the honor and freedom of France/June 18, 1940-May 8, 1945”.

During, WWII, the basements were used to store Jewish assets under receivership. In the 1950’s, the East wing was the object of important works which allowed the opening in 1961 of the Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris, made up of works of the Petit Palais. In 1977, with the inauguration of the Centre Georges-Pompidou, the collections of the National Museum of Modern Art leave the West wing of the Palais de Tokyo, leaving on the spot the post-impressionist works of the artists born before 1870, who will join in 1986 the Musée d’Orsay.

A bit of description from my amateur view.

Among the 128 proposals of the architectural competition, attended by the most renowned architects of the time.The laureates firm built a building of sober and monumental style, consisting of two symmetrical wings linked together by a large peristyle, on either side of an axis perpendicular to the Seine river, on which is located the mirror of water. This one takes place on the terrace dominating the river, below the monumental staircase leaning on the hill, which is decorated with bas-reliefs entitled “Allegory to the glory of the Arts” by Alfred Janniot and summoned to the statue representing “France” of Antoine Bourdelle. The building opens with high windows giving to the south on the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. The glass ceilings allow to illuminate most parts in a overhead way with natural light. The important exterior decoration of Art Deco style is complemented by the metopes Centaur and Eros of Marcel Gaumont on the west side, Sirens and Hercules of Leon Baudry  on the east side, the bronze doors of the ironworker Szabo with reliefs of Andre Bizette-Lindet  on the side of the Avenue du président Wilson, by Raymond Subes with reliefs by Louis Dideron on the Avenue de New York side. Many isolated statues were placed on the terraces of the water mirror of which only the lying nymphs of Louis Dejean, Léon-Ernest Drivier and Auguste Guénot are left.


And a bit on today’s look

The Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris or MAMVP, opened in 1961 in the eastern wing of the palace, presents the municipal collection of modern and contemporary art since the fauvism, rich of more than 10 000 works, mainly focused on the movements related to the capital and more recently on the European art scene.  In 1999, it was decided to partially reopen the West wing of the building by setting up a Center for Contemporary Art, with an emphasis on the emerging stage, notably French and European. The Palais de Tokyo/Site of contemporary creation, was inaugurated on January 21, 2002 and opened on January 22, 2002, to the general public, and enlarged  in 2012 to 22 000 m2. It is an interdisciplinary place dedicated to contemporary creation in all its forms: painting, sculpture, design, fashion, video, cinema, literature, and dance.

The building has a very nice library open every day except Tuesdays. The wonderful restaurants Les Grands Verres , Le Readymade, and Monsieur Bleu are open every day.  Walther König & Cahiers d’art, two flagship brands in the art world, unite to create in the Palais de Tokyo one of the largest art bookstores in Paris.  On 450 m2, the bookstore of the Palais de Tokyo offers an international selection of books and magazines, as well as stationery, gift articles and objects related to the exhibitions of the Palais de Tokyo. I have tried couple months back the Monsieur Bleu and it is great with good food and wonderful views: see more here: Restaurant Monsieur Bleu at the Palais de Tokyo

And here are some webpages as usual to help you plan your visit here, and I say it is worth the detour.

Official Palais de Tokyo

Tourist office of Paris on the Palais de Tokyo

Official museum of modern art of Paris

There you go , you are set to go. And a lovely area of Paris for walks and wonderful Haussmannien architecture. Enjoy the whole complex of the Palais de Tokyo.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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2 Comments to “Palais de Tokyo, Paris of course!”

  1. It sounds like the French version of the Tate Gallery. I think it’s very impressive to have an outer wall built entirely of marble: how lush! 👍💖

    Liked by 1 person

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