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In the heart of the multi-cultural site of La Villette in Paris, the Cité des sciences et de l'industrie is a Universcience site which has provided a bridge between science, society and technology, since it was created in 1986.

A place for meeting and exchange, the Cité des Sciences is keen to ensure that the development of science, technology, industrial expertise and the surrounding issues are accessible to all.

1. Its goals

In the heart of the multi-cultural site of La Villette in Paris, the Cité des sciences et de l'industrie is a Universcience site which has provided a bridge between science, society and technology, since it was created in 1986.

A place for meeting and exchange, the Cité des sciences is keen to ensure that the development of science, technology, industrial expertise and the surrounding issues are accessible to all.

In order to achieve this, the Cité des sciences et de l'industrie offers rich and varied cultural provisions, suitable for audiences of all ages, with:

  • playful interactive temporary and permanent exhibitions
  • shows
  • Library for Science and Industry
  • Cité des Enfants
  • Cité de la santé
  • Cité des métiers
  • conferences, discussions and debates
  • publications
  • Digital Carrefour: spaces dedicated to new technologies and experiments: the Fab Lab and Living Lab for audiences to understand the fundamental issues in contemporary science, learn about scientific principles and act upon them.

From the start, the Cité des sciences has worked to share and increase the influence of scientific and technical culture, both regionally and internationally.

With its recognised expertise in museum interpretation, the Cité des sciences et de l'industrie is involved in projects to collaborate and share knowledge and expertise with science culture professionals, regionally and throughout the world:

  • exhibition tours of science centres abroad
  • sharing expertise in museum mediation for children, with the concept of the Cité des enfants
  • support for the definition and creation of museum studies facilities (education, infrastructure...). 

The location of the Cité in the north-east of Paris, as part of the culture and leisure hub of the Parc de la Villette, means it can welcome a wide range of audiences, who often rarely visit cultural institutions. With this in mind, the Cité relies on educational innovation to offer services for employment, guidance and professional training. Finally, the Cité, which sets an example for accessibility, is certified for the four different kinds of disability.

2. Before the Cité: La Villette

The existence of La Villette was first recorded in 1198.
In the 18th century, La Villette was still a small village, an agricultural hamlet on the outskirts of Paris, the age-old route towards the north, the east and to Germany.
In 1812, to provide water supplies for Paris, Napoleon built a canal from Ourcq, known as the Villette Basin, and also opened it up to navigation.
From 1867, the abattoirs and animal markets of Paris were brought together in a single site in La Villette by Haussmann, head of the regional administration.
In 1900, 23,000 sheep and 5,000 cows were slaughtered each day.
As the market for meat grew rapidly, the equipment was modernised in 1930 and again in 1950.
The construction of a giant sales hall next to the abattoir began in the 1960s.
But with the arrival of refrigerated lorries, animals began to be slaughtered closer to farms.
The work stopped in 1971, which is when the "scandal of La Villette" erupted.
The last industrial abattoir was closed in 1974.

3. Key dates

1977: Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, President of France, launched a project to renovate the La Villette site.
1979: A public body was created to run the Parc de la Villette and oversee the renovations of the 55 hectare site, led by Paul Delouvrier. The physicist Maurice Lévy produced a report proposing the future content of the Museum of Science, Technology and Industry at La Villette.
6 May 1985: inauguration of the Géode, designed by the architect Adrien Fansilber and built in collaboration with the engineer Gérard Chamayou.
13 March 1986: inauguration of the Cité des sciences et de l'industrie by François Mitterrand, President of France, during the passage of Halley's comet.
1992: opening of the Cité des enfants
2002: opening of the Conferences at the Cité des sciences
2005: opening of the Digital Carrefour
2006: The Cité's 20th anniversary It has received more than 64 million visitors since it opened in 1986, an average of more than 3 million visitors a year
2007: opening of the "new generation" Cité des enfants for children aged 2-7
2008: new permanent exhibition The Great Story of the Universe
2009: opening of the "new generation" Cité des enfants for children aged 5-12 and the new permanent exhibition Earthwatch: Satellite Revolution
2011: opening of the new permanent exhibition Transport and Mankind
2014: opening of the new permanent exhibition BR4IN