The Palais de Tokyo (Palace of Tokyo) is a building dedicated to modern and contemporary art, located at 13 avenue du Président-Wilson, near the Trocadéro, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The eastern wing of the building belongs to the City of Paris, and hosts the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris). The western wing belongs to the French state and since 2002 has hosted the Palais de Tokyo / Site de création contemporaine, the largest museum in France dedicated to temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.
The building is separated from the Seine river by the avenue de New-York, which was formerly named Quai Debilly and later Avenue de Tokio (from 1918 to 1945). The name Palais de Tokyo derives from the name of this street.
Palais de Tokyo was created in 2002: Its liveliness, joyfulness, and adventurous approach made Paris sit up and take notice. As an anti-museum par excellence, a rebellious undeveloped plot in the 16th arrondissement, a offbeat yet ambitious “palace”, a place for exchanges and surprises, it was the pioneer of a movement of reconciliation between the City of Light and contemporary art. It has been emulated as a model and for its programming well beyond the frontiers of France, both among specialists, art-lovers, and the wide public.
Following on from these years of success, in 2012 Palais de Tokyo became one of the largest sites devoted to contemporary creativity in Europe, its surface area rising from 8,000 sq. m. to 22,000 sq. m. It now extends right to the River Seine, forming a link on the side of the hill between the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysées. Its success, its spirit of adventure, and these new spaces made available to artists, their gestures, and their ways of looking increase our capacity to perceive, imagine, and open up new paths.
Today, the expansion of its premises and its mission provides Palais de Tokyo with an opportunity to rethink the role of cultural institutions in view of the permanent speeding up of our lives. It becomes a place where we can come face to face with the art of our time. A place that was born from its contradictions, is inhabited by them and has grown up among them. Magical yet violent, poetic and transgressive, sensual yet meditative, huge yet intimate, public yet secret – a place where they know how to be enthusiastic without pontificating, relaxed and at the same time attentive, thorough yet accessible, where they work not on art but with art, and where art works on us.
This enhanced Palais de Tokyo will become a destination with broad spaces that are as mobile as the lives that pass through them. A permanent landing stage moored by the river, a terraced garden with branching pathways, a utopia on the move, an interface whose inhabitants and visitors live simultaneously within and outside the codes of the city, of “culture”, of everyday life. A territory offering present-day explorers the modest but crucial opportunity to sample the pulsation and flavors of what is emerging, finally allowing us to keep pace with the audacities of our own epoch.