The IMA, or Institut du Monde Arabe Cultural Centre

The Institut du Monde Arabe is known as the IMA for short and is a cultural centre in Paris home to a museum, exhibition centre, library, auditorium for shows such as music and dance, along with a Lebanese restaurant.

About the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris

The concept of building a relationship between Arab Nations and France where an exchange of science and technology could occur and establish an institute within the capital city, was first thought of at the start of the 1980s.

And when you look back at the history and the building of the Institut du Monde Arabe, this was set in motion in 1981 with an innovative design that has moving elements to adjust light and climate.  And being a centre for research, information, cultural and spiritual values, it was inaugurated by the French President in 1987, and opened to the public a few days later in the December of the same year.
Institut du Monde Arabe building
Often known as the IMA for short, or in English the Arab World Institute, the aims of promoting co-operation and development between the countries along with creating a greater understanding for the general public, in addition to offering services such as Arabic lessons, this cultural centre in Paris has gone from strength to strength.

The Institute of the Arab World is also another way this cultural centre in Paris is referred to, and here you will be able to find a museum with some very fascinating artefacts, a library, educational resources, a dedicated exhibition area, the auditorium and a Lebanese restaurant called Le Zyriab, which is run by the Noura group of restaurants.

Exhibitions at the IMA in Paris

So as well as the Musee de l’Ima Museum of the Institut du Monde Arabe, there is also a complete exhibition centre that is dedicated to temporary exhibitions on specific themes for example ethnology, however, these are of course always changing every few months.

Yet there are also interactive exhibitions you can visit and again these change frequently, but some in the past have been on subjects such as Pharaohs, Arabian horses, the heritage of Algeria, and another dedicated to specific painters.

The Auditorium

The auditorium has a capacity of 350 seats and plays host to numerous different cultural events throughout the year, whether it be lectures and discussions, through to performances or films.

There are well over 30 different musical events organised throughout the year based on specific themes from Arabian classical music through to contemporary artists that bring a completely new twist to this art form and sacred music through to those with dialogue whether it be in the form of poetry, soul, Egyptian songs, etc.

You can also discover shows related to dance that are held throughout the year where different groups are invited to perform, and again these have different themes and vary from traditional to the more contemporary, and many integrate the different cultural ideals.

There are also Maghreb movies screened at the Institut du Monde Arabe throughout the year and others that are screened at other specific places around Paris in association and collaboration with the Arab World Institute.
Institut du Monde Arabe name inscription
Modern art outside Institut du Monde Arabe
And there is an exceedingly varied selection of films from documentaries to those that have been produced by specific film makers and some being dedicated to specific people or events, and you can discover films produced back in the 1980s right through to the present day.

But we would like to point out that there is a charge for any of these and booking of tickets is required, which is best done in advance online at their website or via telephone on +33 (0) 1 40 51 38 14.  Although they can be purchased on site between the hours of 10am and 5pm on a Tuesday to Sunday, yet availability is limited and therefore this will not always be possible, especially if you are thinking about attending a specific show, event, concert, etc that same day.

The Bibliotheque or Library of the IMA

The Institut du Monde Arabe also has a library with free access and on-site consultation that is open on a Tuesday to Saturday from 1pm through to 8pm, however, it is closed at all other times and also closes two hours earlier during the summer from the start of July to the end of August.

Within the library you can copy documents or browse at will, ask a librarian specific questions, etc, however you can also access their online library completely free if you have access to WiFi.
Inside windows of Institut du Monde Arabe
You will also find that the library, also known as the BIMA, has different exhibitions from time to time such as the one during the summer holidays of 2013 that related to Arabic calligraphy, its script and how it developed.

In addition to this, there is also a dedicated youth media area that focuses on different areas and subjects, yet there are also story sessions that take place weekly and during school holidays, which have free admission, although these do have to be booked in advance for groups of children.

IMA Guided Tours

Guided tours of the Musee de l’Ima Museum are available at set times and set days for individuals with an additional charge of €4 as of 2018 on top of the museum entry and guided visits can be organised in French, English and Arabic.

However guided tours of the collections and also the building and its architecture are organised for groups of up to 25 people at any one time, with the tours lasting approximately one and a half hours.  Yet for these, we would like to point out that these guided tours have to be arranged at least two weeks in advance and there is a set charge per group on top of the individual entrance fee per person.
Mechanical windows at Institut du Monde Arabe
Institut du Monde Arabe outside windows
There is also another type of guided tour available, which is called the Historic Arab Paris and consists of a two and half hour tour that starts off between the College de France and the Sorbonne, then continues to one of the oldest churches in Paris called the Eglise Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre.  The third part is where you find out about the first Arab newspaper in France and the libraries, then you continue on this walking tour, which takes you to the Mosquee de Paris Mosque and the walk ends at the Institut du Monde Arabe.

This particular walking tour of discovery is available between May and September for individuals, and all year round for groups, however, this does have to be booked in advance by telephoning +33 (0) 1 40 51 38 14 for individuals and +33 (0) 1 40 51 39 50 for groups, and these are normally conducted on a Saturday.

Visiting the Institut du Monde Arabe Cultural Centre

The Arab World Institute is located in the 5th Arrondissement, which is often referred to as the Latin Quarter of the city, and is situated right by the River Seine opposite the Ile Saint-Louis.

However you can also get a fabulous view of the Notre Dame Cathedral on the Ile de la Cite island from the Zyriab restaurant, which is located on the top floor of the innovative IMA building, and it is also within walking distance of other tourist attractions such as the Jardin des Plantes.
Window architecture of Institut du Monde Arabe
You may be pleased to know that the Musee de l’Institut du Monde Arabe museum and the cultural centre are accessible to the disabled, yet we would like to point out that everything here is closed on a Monday and on certain National French holidays such as 1st May.

The Museums and Exhibitions are open from 10am to 6pm on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, on a Thursday and Saturday they are open from 10am through to 8pm and on a Sunday plus certain holidays from 10am through to 7pm, although the ticket office closes a minimum of 45 minutes prior to the closing time.

The bookshop is open from 10am through to 6:45pm during weekdays and at a weekend it does not close until 7:45pm, whereas the Panoramic Terrace is open from 10am through to 6pm on a Tuesday through to Sunday.

You will find that the cost of entry to the Museum is €8 as of 2018, however, there are reduced rates available for children and students from outside the EU and free admission to the disabled and children residing within the EU.

As for performances, these do vary in cost and are range in price from between €20 and €30 as of 2018, and subject to availability, these can be purchased from the ticket office on site, even on the day of the performance, but we would like to point out that there is one standard cost for anyone to attend no discounts for children, etc.
Institut du Monde Arabe artwork

Access to the Institut du Monde Arabe 

When it comes to getting to the Institute du Monde Arabe, as we mentioned earlier, this is located in the 5th Arrondissement and the nearest Metro stations are called the Jussieu stop serving lines 7 and 10, the Cardinal Lemoine or Maubert - Mutualite stops via line 10, or on the opposite side of the River Seine you have the Sully - Morland stop that serves line 7.

But if you are travelling to Paris via train you would need the Gare d’Austerlitz train station located on the opposite side of the Jardin des Plantes that services the TER, Intercities and the RER trains for the RER C Line, plus this is also a Metro station serving lines 5 and 10.

Alternatively, within walking distance you have the bus lines 24, 63, 67, 86, 87 and 89 along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via lines N15 and N22, not forgetting the Batobus, which is the water bus shuttle service that has a dock near.