Institut de France is an institution of the learned, located in central Paris in a magnificent, monumental building.
The institute acts as an umbrella organization for a total of five academies, the most famous of which is the “Académie Française“.
In addition to the academies, the institute also governs about 1,000 French associations, among which are tourist attractions such as museums and palaces.
Their mandate includes providing cultural awards and grants, which it primarily does based on recommendations from the five academies.
PHOTO: Collège des Quatre-Nations facade, as seen from Quai François Mitterrand, on the opposite side of Seine river. The bridge in the picture is Pont des Arts, a “studio en plein air” for painters, photographers, and other artists.
As an organization, the institute was created in 1795 from the efforts of Les Neuf Sœurs (a section of the French Freemasons), whose most famous member was Ben Franklin.
The five high profile French academies of the institute are:
- Académie française (www.academie-francaise.fr – mostly dealing with the French language) – founded in 1635.
- Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres (www.aibl.fr, Academy of Humanities) – founded in 1663.
- Académie des sciences (www.academie-sciences.fr, a science academy) – founded in 1666.
- Académie des beaux-arts (www.academie-des-beaux-arts.fr, Academy of Fine Arts) – created in 1816 from the combination of Académie de peinture et de sculpture (founded in 1648), Académie de musique (1669), and Académie d’architecture (1671).
- Académie des sciences morales et politiques (www.asmp.fr, Academy of Moral and Political Sciences) – founded in 1795, closed in 1803, and reopened in 1832.
The institute building, Collège des Quatre-Nations (completed in 1688), is one of the most magnificent structures within the banks of Seine river.
It is a design by Louis Le Vau, and built based on instructions given by Cardinal Mazarin’s 1661 testament.
From 1796, the structure housed one of three central schools in Paris, as “École centrale des Quatre-Nations“, but that operation was closed down in 1802.
Three years later, 1805, by orders of Napoleon, Institut de France, which had been previously operating in Louvre palace, was transferred to the Collège des Quatre-Nations…where it has stayed ever since.
Details of these guided tours to the Collège des Quatre-Nations are available from the official website, at www.institut-de-france.fr.