Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Paris
The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (City of Science and Industry) in Paris, with a gross floor area of 150,000 square meters / 1.6 million square feet, is the largest science center in Europe.
A view of the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, the main building is on the left, the Géode cinema is visible on the right; photo Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
History and building
Opened in 1986, the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is located in the Parc de la Villette, a very popular park and a cultural site in the northeastern part of Paris.
The center was designed by French architect Adrien Fainsilber who conceived a massive steel-and-glass building that “envelopes” the reinforced-concrete structural frame of a former livestock market. The center also includes the iconic Géode, a circular space topped by a geodesic dome, 36 meters / 118 feet across, clad with mirror-polished stainless steel panels, which contains a 400-seat IMAX cinema.
Possibly the most iconic building of the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, the Géode is a 400-seat IMAX cinema enclosed by a large stainless-steel-clad geodesic dome; photo by Alex.
The lobby of the museum; photo Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
Named Explora, the 30,000-square-meter / permanent exhibition of the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is mainly aimed at children but can also be appreciated by adults. On two levels, it illustrates almost all branches of science and technology, from physics to industry, from cosmology to genetics. Explora is divided into eleven thematic galleries.
Br4in is focused on the human brain, its anatomy, capabilities, and evolution, as well as on learning processes and neuroimaging.
The Man & Genes exhibition presents the genetics of living beings, including humans.
Transports and Mankind presents the history, vehicles, and future evolution of human transportation and travels.
Energy explains how humans produce and use energy, the impact on the environment of such production, innovative technologies for production, and more efficient strategies to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.
The Great Story of the Universe narrates the origins of the universe and its evolution and illustrates planets, stars, galaxies, and the principles of astrophysics.
Earthwatch: the satellite revolution focuses on man-made artificial satellites and space probes.
Mathematics presents the history and principles of math – especially geometry, statistics, and real-world modeling – by the means of videos and interactive installations.
The Sounds exhibition comprises a number of interactive exhibits presenting the physics of sounds, different acoustic environments, voice communication in humans and animals, human languages, and music.
Pinhole is dedicated to optical illusions, human vision, and perspective.
Under the Ocean explores the sea and various marine environments from a scientific and geopolitical point of view.
Finally, the Cité des Enfants is an educational exhibition, especially aimed at children between the ages of 2 and 7, who can experience and explore physical phenomena through play.
The permanent exhibition also includes the 3D cinema Luis-Lumière. Other popular attractions are the already-mentioned Géode spherical cinema (closed until 2020), an aquarium (comprising three tanks with Mediterranean marine flora and fauna), the Argonaute submarine, a Planetarium, and an experimental sundial, inaugurated in 2016.
The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie also includes temporary exhibition spaces, a 200,000-volume library, a media library, an auditorium, a congress center, educational rooms, three cafe-restaurants, and a picnic area.
A prototype and a Microsoft Kinect-based flight simulator of the Solar Impulse solar-powered aircraft on show at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie; photos Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
A sea bream in the aquarium of the Cité; photo MacDara Conroy.
An interactive exhibit in the Terra Data exhibition, 2018; photo Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
Cover image: the geodesic dome of the Géode IMAX cinema at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris; photos by George Kiwi.
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