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The Cite de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine opened in Paris this week with an inaugural exhibition called “Avant-Apres” or “Before-After: the awareness of time.” Claiming to be the biggest museum in Europe devoted to architecture, it is housed in a massive 23,000 square meters space in the Palais de Chaillot, in the 16th arrondissement.
Two central halls earmarked for temporary exhibitions opened yesterday. Additional elements are slated to open in September 2007. These include an architecture library with 45,000 books and 450 magazines.
“Before-After,” (admission just €5) runs until September 16. It consists of a long darkened corridor mounted with huge screens showing 150 short films illustrating the theme of time in architecture, with subjects ranging from a beach house on France’s Atlantic coast to the transformation of Tokyo’s Shinjuku district over three decades.
The impact of architecture on public and private spaces is portrayed in a mostly positive light, although there is something undeniably frightening about seeing 30 years of change compressed into a few minutes. You can pull up a chair and settle in for the show. Some of the footage is cut with extracts from classic movies like Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
In a nearby annex there is another exhibition, free of charge, called “Génération Europan.” The series highlights futuristic visions of 21st century urban development as envisioned by prize-winning young European architects.
Palais de Chaillot is located at 1 place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre. Metro: Trocadéro or Iena. Hours: Monday through Friday from noon until 8 p.m., Thursday evenings until 10 p.m., and weekends from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.