International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques in Modern Life in Paris 1937

Arts and techniques applied to modern life

May 25, 1937 - November 25, 1937


In November 1929, Julien Durand, president of the Chamber of Commerce, realised that France was superior in the field of decoration, art and design. He then decided to submit the idea of holding an international exhibition on the decorative arts.

In 1935, the government informed the BIE of its intention to hold an international exhibition on the themes of applied arts and modern industries in Paris in 1937. However, due to financial problems, the government cancelled the exhibition in January 1934. Reactions were not long in coming in influential circles, who expressed their disapproval of this decision. Six months later, a law was passed to finance the exhibition and the decision was made to continue the work.

Despite administrative problems and workers' strikes that delayed the construction of the pavilions, the exhibition opened on 25 May 1937, but was not actually completed until several months later.

The exhibition was located in the centre of Paris and stretched from the Champs de Mars, Trocadero to Les Invalides along the Seine.

But to make the exhibition more contemporary and to make its mark on Paris, the old Trocadero building was razed to the ground and in its place a huge new building was constructed: the Palais de Chaillot.

The designers of this exhibition wanted the buildings to be less flashy and more durable, unlike the 1900 exhibition.

This exhibition was also characterised by its numerous sound and light shows that featured all the monuments of the exhibition as well as the 200 fountains along the Seine.

This exhibition was intended to promote economic exchanges and ideas, and in particular peace. But as far as the latter was concerned, it was nothing of the sort, as the USSR and Germany faced each other at the exhibition, using their monumental pavilions to try to mark their superiority. This state of affairs symbolised the growing tensions between the two blocs which, as everyone knows, led to war.