Paris, France: and a tale of the Institut du Monde Arabe

Perhaps it's something about looking for the familiar, even when traveling.  Perhaps that's why the day after I landed in Paris, I headed for the Institut du Monde Arabe .  Founded in 1980 by France with 18 Arab countries, its purpose is to research and disseminate information about the Arab world and its cultural and spiritual values. The Institute also promotes cooperation and exchanges between France and Arab nations.  Laudable missions, particularly now.

The Institut du Monde Arabe is located on Rue des Fossés Saint Bernard in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, France. Designed by Jean Nouvel with Architecture Studio, it won the prestigious Aga Khan Architecture Award.   {As you will remember in this post, the Aga Khan is the man that my father worked for for many years.}  The Institute is over 180,000 square feet and from its rooftop is one of the most beautiful views of all of Paris. 

The building, itself, is magnificent, its façade looks like a modern metal mashrabiya, so familiar in Islamic architecture.  It's actually made up of photosensitive panels that open and close to control the intensity of light in the interior.  So incredible.

The permanent exhibit is beautiful and a sublime way to learn about Arab culture.  All the objects look like they are floating in air, each a treasure.

The also have an amazing roster of exhibits that come and go.  While we were in Paris, my husband and I went with our 2 teenagers and some of our oldest friends to the Institute's Hip-Hop Exhibit.  Entitled Hip-Hop, from the Bronx to the Arab Streets, this exhibit was under the creative direction of the French rapper, Akhenaton.  Akhenaton is known for his socially conscious rapping and is also the highest paid rapper in the world

The exhibit was an amazing full sensory experience, from films, to listening stations, to clothing, to art.  Extremely well done, with our head phones on and in front of screens, we listened and watched Hip-Hop rappers from several different Arab countries. It's no surprise that my kids loved it.  

Perhaps my favorite part of the exhibit was the beautiful Arab-focused imagery of street art.  Breathtaking and creative, with layers of Arabic calligraphy.

If you are in Paris, make sure to drop by the Institut du Monde Arabe.  The Hip-Hop exhibit closes on July 26. 

Links: Institut du Monde Arabe, Current exhibition