Paris: 10 Things to Do

5. Institut du Monde Arabe

Paris City Guide Institut du Monde Arabe Eitan Simanor / Alamy
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An estimated 4 to 7 million of France's 62 million residents possess Arabic roots (figures are inexact because the government shrinks from collecting ethnic data on its populace), so it's fitting that the country, together with 22 Arabic nations, founded the Arab World Institute. What's unexpected, however, is the Institute's building, one of Paris's most beautiful contemporary constructions. On its southern exterior, architect Jean Nouvel designed an intricate lattice of photosensitive apertures, which open and close to modulate the light that enters — a modern take on the traditional Moorish screen. Inside, there's a permanent collection that spans millennia of Arabic art, invention and design. Recent temporary exhibitions, including a survey of modern Palestinian art, indicate that the Institute's programming may be acquiring a contemporary edge.

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