Hundredth anniversary of the official opening of the Institute of Human Palaeontology

Promoted by

Institut de paléontologie humaine, Fondation Albert Ier

Hundredth anniversary of the official opening of the Institute of Human Palaeontology

Bâtiment de l'IPH

On 16 November 1910, Prince Albert I requested that the Institute of Human Paleontology that he had founded in Paris be acknowledged as a public interest organisation. Having been passionate about anthropology since the discovery of a fossilised man in the Grimaldi caves in 1872, Albert I of Monaco decided to fund the construction of an Institute in Paris to continue the work of Marcellin Boule on a new anthropoid specimen, The Old Man of La Chapelle-aux-Saints, which was found in 1908. To carry out his project, he turned to Nice architect Emmanuel Pontremoli, a winner of the Grand Prix de Rome, who was recommended to him by Joseph Reinach: the architect had recently completed Villa Kérylos in Beaulieu-sur-Mer.

Construction began in 1911 on a site at the intersection of Rue René Panhard and Boulevard Saint-Marcel. The rich decorations designed by sculptor Constant Roux depicted scenes from the everyday lives of the first humans. By the time the war began, the main structural work had been completed. The building would not be officially opened until 23 December 1920; the ceremony was attended by President of the French Republic Alexandre Millerand, Minister of Public Education André Honnorat and senior figures from the worlds of politics and academia.

The Institute of Human Palaeontology was dedicated to the study of the origins and history of human fossils and the priest Henri Breuil was the first chair of historical ethnography. Once again, Prince Albert I played a key role in the development of science and dissemination of knowledge. Today, the Institute continues to host researchers from the French National Museum of Natural History and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, French National Centre for Scientific Research), and to coordinate research. A century on, the Institute of Human Palaeontology remains a centre of excellence in the field of prehistoric sciences, bringing together a network of scientific organisations from France and beyond.

The Institute of Human Palaeontology is currently led by Ms Anna Echassoux. Henry de Lumley, Director of the Institute from 1980 to 2019 and a distinguished and highly regarded prehistorian, will grace the centenary celebrations with his presence. The celebrations will also be attended by H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince of Monaco, and the President of the French Republic has been invited.

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