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Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris

The Institut du Monde Arabe may not be on the list of places to see for a first time visitor to Paris but a visit to this architectural masterpiece has it perks.

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Southern façade of the Institut du Monde Arabe

Occupying a prime location on the left bank of the Seine, the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) is an imposing structure that holds temporary and permanent exhibitions from the Arab world.

Institut du Monde Arabe
Exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arabe

Established in 1980 as one of François Mitterand’s Grands Projets, the building itself is in a work of art, with a construction of glass and steel in an Arabic latticework design by architect Jean Nouvel.

The southern façade is made up of mashrabiya or moucharabiehs (fr), mechanical irises or diaphragms designed to control the amount of light into the building.

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Inside the southern facade

Institut du Monde ArabeInstitut du Monde Arabe
The mechanical irises seen from the outside (left) and from the inside of the building (right)

Access to the building is free after passing through an airport-style security check but with an inviting welcome. Inside, there are various exhibitions, an impressive library and a bookshop with literary works from the Arab world.

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The library

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The stairs

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Steel and pipes

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The industrial style ceiling

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Exterior of the Institut du Monde Arabe facing the Seine

But there is more to the visit than marvelling at architecture and culture. Take the lift to the 9th floor and from the  terrace, you are treated to free panoramic views of Paris.

The IMA is located in close vicinity to Café Rallye Tournelle and La Tour d’Argent (review pending).

Institut du Monde Arabe
1 Rue des Fosses St-Bernard
Place Mohammed V
Paris 75005
Métro: Jussieu or Sully-Morland


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.