The buzz in Paris this week is the recent debut of the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé in the Gobelins quartier of the 13th arrondissement. For one thing, it was conceived by legendary architect Renzo Piano, who first made a name for himself with his radical vision for the Centre Pompidou, and more recently changed the London skyline with the Shard, the tallest skyscraper in Western Europe.
Along with Gaumont, Pathé is the oldest movie production company in the world, and the new Fondation space is entirely devoted to film and the history of cinema. The building at 73 avenue des Gobelins was decorated by the sculptor Auguste Rodin, and is classified a historic monument. Behind the façade, Renzo Piano has created what looks like “a giant glass slug.”
There’s an entire theater—equipped with 68 seats, two 35mm projectors, and a digital one—where silent films are screened accompanied by live piano music. The goal of the Fondation is to show the history of cinema through the Pathé lens, as it was established in 1896 and was the world’s largest film company until World War I. Needless to say, the company’s archives are extraordinary, and the old cameras, film projectors, and reels can even be handled by children visiting the Fondation’s new headquarters.
Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, 73 avenue des Gobelins, 75013 Paris. Tel: +33 1 83 79 18 96. Open Tuesday -Friday, 1 pm- 6 pm, and Saturday 10 am- 7 pm. Closed Sundays and Mondays. The entry fee, which includes a film screening and access to the exhibitions, is 6 euros.