The Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie is one of Europe’s most imaginative interactive science centres. It is also an outstanding example of the successful adaptation to new purposes of a large industrial building. The activities of the various abattoirs and wholesale meat markets of the city of Paris were concentrated from 1876 in a series of large buildings at La Villette in the north-east quarter, an area that came to be known as the Cite de Sang (city of blood) that was portrayed in Le Sang des Betes, the film by Georges Franju (1912-87). In Paris as in other European capitals, central markets came to be moved from the third quarter of the 20th century towards the suburbs where they could be more easily reached by road transport, and the last beast was slaughtered at La Villette in 1974.
The adaptation of the buildings as a museum began in 1979 under the direction of the architect Adrien Fainsilber, and le Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie opened on 13 March 1986, when Halley’s Comet was visible. A particular feature of the conversion is the merging of the interior with the exterior, with vegetation from the surrounding gardens extending into the buildings.
The museum holds collections of machines and scientific instruments relating particularly to computer science, telecommunications and printing. The permanent exhibitions illustrate three themes: water, plant life and energy, and there are displays relating to space, motor cars, aeronautics and health issues.