Institut du Monde Arabe

Institut du Monde Arabe (79)

The Institute of the Arab World is a relatively young institution. It was founded in 1980 by France and twenty Arab countries with the aim of encouraging cultural ties between the West and the Islamic world. 

The impressive building that occupies this site is the work of the French architect Jean Nouvel. This architect also designed, among other works, the Quai Branly Museum, also in Paris and the Agbar Tower in Barcelona.

The building brilliantly mixes the modern materials and design with traditional elements of Arab architecture. 

If you approach the west wall, through the windows you will be able to see a tower. It is the white marble tower of the library that stands up as if it were the minaret of a mosque. 

The building is divided in two by a narrow corridor that leads to some large interior spaces, one of the characteristic elements of Arab architecture. 

On floors four to seven you will be able to admire a really thorough collection of works of art and craftsmanship from the entire Arab world, from the 9th to the 19th centuries. You can see glass objects, rugs, sculptures, ceramics and a very interesting collection of astronomy instruments.

The greatest technical innovation of the building is its ingenious system of windows. The south wall has 1,600 metallic screens that regulate the amount of light and heat that enter inside. Its design is inspired by the wooden trellises of houses in Morocco.

Each screen has 21 electronically controlled irises that open and close depending on the amount of sunlight that lights up the photosensitive screens. All these irises are connected to each other and to the central iris. They open and close forming an effect of light and shade in the building. 

As well s the museum and the library, there is a newspaper cutting archive, two restaurants, one of them with panoramic views, a literary café and a shop-bookshop.

We recommend you climb to the ninth floor and enjoy the view from its splendid terrace while having a delicious Moorish tea, for example. 

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