First opened in 1987, the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris (Arab World Institute) was conceived as a bridge between the Middle Eastern and Western worlds and as a forum dedicated to Arabic arts, culture, and history.
Housed in a stunning and distinctively modern building co-designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the Institute hosts regular exhibits on the theme of important artists, writers, filmmakers, and other cultural figures from around the Arab speaking world. There's also a lovely rooftop café, Lebanese restaurant and teahouse, Moroccan-style tea room in a building adjacent to the main one, and beautiful panoramic views over Paris from the 9th floor of the building, which is perched on the left bank of the Seine River. Whether you're deeply interested in Arab culture and arts or want to learn more, we recommend reserving some time for this remarkable Parisian landmark on your next visit.
Location and Contact Details:
The Institute is located at the far end of Paris's 5th Arrondissement on the left bank of the Seine, in close reach of the historic Latin Quarter and its many regal universities and quiet, winding streets. It's a recommended stop on any tour of the area that purports to be remotely off the beaten track.
Institut du Monde Arabe
1, rue des Fossés-Saint-Bernard
Place Mohammed-V 75005 Paris
Metro: Sully-Morland or Jussieu
Tel: +33 (0) 01 40 51 38 38
Nearby Sights and Attractions:
- Ile St-Louis
- Latin Quarter, including the old Sorbonne University and the St-Michel and Rue Mouffetard neighborhoods
- Paris boat tours of the Seine River
- Jardin des Plantes
- Grande Mosquee de Paris (visit the beautiful tearoom)
Opening Hours and Purchasing Tickets:
The Institute is open daily from Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays. Following are the opening times for the on-site museum. Make sure to arrive at the ticket office at least 45 minutes before closing times to ensure entry to the exhibits.
- Tuesday to Thursday: 10:00 am-6:00 pm
- Friday: 10:00 am-9:30 pm
- Saturday-Sunday and bank holidays: 10:00 am-7:00 pm
Tickets and current prices: See this page at the official website
The sumptuous and strikingly modern building housing the Institute was designed by French architect John Nouvel in coordination with Architecture-Studio, and is an award-winning and globally recognized structure, having won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture as well as other accolades. It features a distinctive glass wall façade on the southwest side: a metallic screen visible behind it reveals slowly moving geometric forms recalling Moroccan, Turkish, or Ottoman designs. The broad effect is to create interiors with subtle infiltration of filtered light from the outside: a design principle common in Islamic architecture.
The Onsite Museum:
The onsite museum at the Institute regularly hosts exhibits dedicated to contemporary arts and culture from the Arab world, as well as exploring particular cultural heritages and practices such as music and philosophy. There's also a lovely gift shop and a library and media Center for those interested in probing further. For more information on current and past exhibitions at the Museum, visit this page at the official website.
Restaurants and Tearooms at the Institute:
Whether you want to enjoy a glass of fresh mint tea and Middle Eastern pastry or a full Lebanese dining experience, there are several tea rooms and a panoramic rooftop restaurant at the center. All have excellent fare, in my experience. See this page for more information and to make a reservation.