Paris 2024: A Culture Lover's Guide to the Olympics

Paris 2024: A Culture Lover's Guide to the Olympics

From ancient origins to modern medals, museums and attractions across Paris are celebrating the creativity of the Games through the Cultural Olympiad.
From ancient origins to modern medals, museums and attractions across Paris are celebrating the creativity of the Games through the Cultural Olympiad.

I n the lead up to the 2024 Olympic Games, hundreds of events, shows and exhibitions are taking place in cultural institutions across France as part of the Cultural Olympiad – a multidisciplinary artistic and cultural programme that aims to start new conversations between the worlds of art, culture and sport. With so much happening in Paris alone, we have put together a guide of the best things to see this summer.

Cycloïde Piazza, Centre Pompidou, 25 June–15 September

To celebrate skateboarding’s recent inclusion at the Olympic Games, the Centre Pompidou has invited French artist Raphaël Zarka to create a “skateable” sculpture for the vast Place Georges-Pompidou in front of the museum. A practitioner of the sport himself, Zarka creates large geometrical sculptures as a dialogue with skateboarders, whom he has invited to interact with his work in various public spaces, drawing a direct connection between skateboarding and contemporary art.

Joseph Werner, Allegory of Louis XIV as Apollo on the Chariot of the Sun, 1664. Photo: © RMN-GP (Château de Versailles) © Franck Raux

The Horse in Majesty, National Museum of the Palace of Versailles, 2 July–3 November

All equestrian events during the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place at the Palace of Versailles. And starting in July, the former royal residence will present a special exhibition dedicated to horses and equestrian civilisation from the 16th to the early 20th century. It will include more than 400 works from collections around the world, many of which will be shown in France for the first time. Visitors can also admire the palace’s recently restored Apollo’s Fountain, a sculptural group depicting the Greek god emerging from the central fountain in a four-horse chariot.

Gold, Silver, Bronze. A History of the Olympic Medal, Musée de la Monnaie de Paris, until 22 September

Chaumet’s Olympic and Paralympic medals for the 2024 games. Credit: Thomas Deschamps

Chaumet, a jeweler founded in 1780, has been given the prestigious task of designing this year’s Olympic medals, which were crafted using iron from the Eiffel Tower, salvaged from renovation work over the years. The Monnaie de Paris, the institution responsible for minting France’s coins, as well as the medals themselves, is hosting an exhibition on the history of these iconic awards. “Whether it is gold, silver or bronze, the Olympic medal is a unique symbol of personal achievement,” says Marc Schwartz, president of the Monnaie de Paris.

Euphronios, Red-figure krater (mixing vessel) depicting Heracles and Antaeus, circa 515–510BC. Photo: © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Stéphane Maréchalle

Olympism: Modern Invention, Ancient Legacy, Musée du Louvre, until 16 September

The first modern Olympic Games in 1896 were envisioned to recreate the sporting competitions of ancient Greece, drawing inspiration from archeological discoveries. An exhibition at the Louvre explores this history through pieces including the silver “Bréal’s Cup” – the inaugural Olympic Cup – which was created for the winner of the first marathon.

Match: Design and Sport – A Story Looking to the Future, Musée du Luxembourg, until 11 August

Match: Design and Sport. Courtesy of Musée du Luxembourg

Good design plays an essential role in sport, whether through ergonomics to optimise athletes’ performances, the weight of a ball to define the speed of a game or the architecture of a stadium to enhance spectators’ experience. In this exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg, German designer Konstantin Grcic explores the relationship between design and sport, tracing its history while looking to the future.

Cover image: Raphaël Zarka, Rampe Cycloïdale, Paris, 2018. © 2024 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris, courtesy of the artist, Galerie Mitterrand and Galerie Fabian Lang, photo by Maxime Verret

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