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Atelier des Lumières

L'Atelier des Lumières offers immersive sight-and-sound exhibitions in a former Parisian foundry. It's a delightful experience for adults and children alike.

Gustav Klimt exhibition at L'Atelier des Lumières

ABOVE: Visitors stand or sit along the walls during a Gustav Klimt show at L'Atelier des Lumières.

In April, 2018, the Atelier des Lumières ("Studio of Light") opened in Paris. The arts space, located in a repurposed 19th Century foundry, uses 120 digital projectors and 50 strategically-placed speakers to present immersive exhibitions based on the works of famous artists from the past and today's digital creators.

Gustav Klimt show announcement - Atelier des LumieresWe attended the opening exhibition, which included three programs: Gustav Klimt, Hundertwasser: In the Wake of the Viennese Succession, and Poetic_AI. The first two programs incorporated paintings by two celebrated Viennese artists of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, while the latter was a short work that was generated by an AI (artificial intelligence) algorithm.

What to expect:

When you arrive at the Atelier, you'll either buy tickets or proceed past the ticket counter to the auditiorium's entrance, where you'll hold your printed ticket or a PDF ticket on your smartphone against a scanner.

Once you're admitted, you'll go through an airlock-style set of doors into the darkened interior, where the programs run continuously throughout the day and evening.

Although your ticket will specify an entry time, you can stay as long as you wish. We spent about an hour and a half inside the auditorium, watching each program twice.

The auditorium is simply a large space, with a handful of jogs and circles plus a staircase that leads up to a mezzanine. You can walk around, sit on the floor, or lie down if you'd like. We even saw a small group of elementary-school girls dance as they crossed the room.

The video projection moves around the walls and floors, so you'll see each program in its entirety regardless of where you wander.

Upstairs, there's a bar (which was closed during our visit) and a mezzanine overlook with seating along the edge. You'll also see a couple of pools from the old foundry, with projections in the water.

Reservations and tickets:

The Atelier des Lumières is open seven days a week, with performances from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. (The ticket office closes one hour earlier.)

You can buy tickets at the door, but because only a certain number of tickets are available for each 30-minute admission time, we suggest buying tickets in advance at the Atelier des Lumières Web site. This is especially important if you plan a visit on the weekend, when the ticket office is closed altogether.

On the Atelier's Web site, click "Your Visit" and select "Tickets Online." You'll be able to see how many tickets are available for each performance.

Once you have your tickets in PDF format, you can print them out or save on your smartphone for scanning at the venue.

Reaching the Atelier des Lumières:

The Atelier is at 38 Rue Saint-Maur in the 11th arrondissement, near three Métro stops and four bus lines. For more information, see "Getting to the Atelier des Lumières" on the official Web site's access page.

More photos:

BELOW: The Atelier des Lumières is on the Rue Saint-Maur, a few blocks south of the Avenue de la République and west of the Père Lachaise Cemetery in the 11th arrondissement.

Atelier des Lumieres entrance

BELOW: The Atelier's lobby has labels (in French and English) about the current shows and the history of the foundry, which opened in 1835. You'll also find toilets down the hall.

Cheryl Imboden at L'Atelier des Lumières, Paris

La Fonderie du Chemin-Vert foundry label

BELOW: Girders, pools, and other structural elements from La Fonderie du Chemin-Vert are incorporated into the performance space.

L'Atelier des Lumière, Paris

Cheryl Imboden at L'Atelier des Lumières, Paris

Foundry pool - L'Atelier des Lumières

BELOW: The most ambitious of the Atelier's opening works was Gustav Klimt. (April 13 - November 11, 2018.)

Excerpt from Gustav Klimt multimedia show at L'Atelier des Lumières

Gustav Klimt nude - L'Atelier des Lumières

Gustav Klimt opening exhibition - L'Atelier des Lumières

BELOW: A visitor took photos during Poetic_AI, a contemporary creation. (April 13 - August 31, 2018.)

You're welcome to shoot pictures and video with your camera or smartphone, but flash is forbidden.

Visitors - L'Atelier des Lumières, Paris

Poetic_Ai by Ouchhh, L'Atelier des Lumières

L'Atelier des Lumières, Paris

BELOW: Hundertwasser, in the Wake of the Vienna Succession was another program in the Atelier's opening exhibition.

Hundertwasser, in the Wake of Vienna Succession - L'Atelier des Lumières

Hundertwasser - L'Atelier des Lumière

BELOW: After the performance, be sure to visit the Atelier's bookstore and gift shop. (We wished they'd sold the leather foundry aprons worn by the staff.)

Book and gift shop - L'Atelier des Lumières

Video of L'Atelier des Lumière's opening exhibitions:

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for About.com, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors (including Paris for Visitors) in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

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