A temporary installation by an artist friend at the Palais d'Iéna gave me the opportunity to explore the often difficult to access interior of Auguste Perret's masterpiece.
Built at the end of the 1930s, at roughly the same time as it's more well-known neighbours (the Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris and the Palais de Tokyo - which make up two wings of the same building - as well as the Palais de Chaillot (Trocadero)), it was originally designed as a museum.
Perret - who has often been mentioned before on this blog (here, and here, and here) both designed and built the structure (with his Frères Perret company, the city's foremost concrete specialists), and it is often considered to be his greatest achievement. However, the building has never really had the occupiers it deserves, and has therefore always remained off the city radar.
|Quite a well-known structure is also close by.|
|The concrete here gives an almost organic feel to the interior|
The first occupier was the Musée National des Travaux Publics, which had the misfortune to open just as war broke out, and was also possibly the dullest museum in Paris. Displaying little more than scale models of bridges, dams and mines, it attracted fewer than 30,000 visitors a year and was closed in 1955.
Today it is used by the Conseil économique et social, a rather obscure assembly which advises French lawmaking bodies on questions of social and economic policies. Given its role, it has remained closed off to the general public for much of its existence, but recently there has been a move to more openness - which is reflected in their acceptance of a temporary art installation.
|The interiors have kept a certain vintage feel|
|The hémicycle under a magnificent glass rotunda|
|Traces of a previous existence.|
The Palais d'Iéna
Place d'Iéna, 75016