Palais de Tokyo Reopens As Largest European Contemporary Art Center


When it opened in 2001, the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art center was a scrappy contemporary art center amidst the tony 16th arrondissement of Paris. For a time, it was a successful laboratory, hosting exhibitions by such artists as Erwin Wurm and Christoph Büchel. But following organizational discord, it lost some steam. The center occupied about a third of a 237,000-square-foot building erected for the 1937 International Exhibition of Arts and Technology. One could sometimes rattle around its cavernous spaces and hardly encounter another visitor among the spread-out installations. Even so, an expansion was deemed in order.

On Apr. 12, the Palais de Tokyo will reopen in its renovated and expanded facility. Billed as the largest contemporary art center in Europe, it now occupies the entire building. The center has been closed since Jan. 1 while finishing touches were put on the revamped space, designed by Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, who rehabbed the building on the first go ‘round.

The new Palais de Tokyo’s four levels contain spacious galleries, rooms and areas for conferences, movies and performances, as well as an expanded bookshop and two restaurants. It will stay open for a consecutive 36 hours on Apr. 12–13, as it did the first time it opened, with a program of performances and some 50 site-specific installations by such artists as Michel Alberola, Ulla von Brandenburg and Christian Marclay, which will remain in place for a year.

On Apr. 20, the Palais de Tokyo kicks off the third Triennale dʼart contemporain, curated by Okwui Enwezor. Titled “Intense Proximity,” it remains on view through Aug. 26. The first two installments were held at the Grand Palais and organized by the Ministry of Culture and Communication. Intended to put Paris back on the contemporary art map, neither event made the anticipated splash. Expectations are again high for the upcoming effort.