Founding of the Institute of Human Palaeontology. A location, a memory

The Institute of Human Palaeontology is, together with the Institute of Oceanography, one of the two Paris foundations established by Prince Albert I, and the third oldest, after the Pasteur Institute and the Institute of Oceanography. It was founded due to both a desire to support scientific research and a wish to reach a wider public through educational work. The founding of the Institute of Human Palaeontology on 23 July 1910, and its subsequent recognition as a foundation of public interest on 15 December 1910 by decree of the President of the French Republic marked a new step: the Institute of Human Palaeontology would become the first research centre in the world to be entirely dedicated to the study of human fossils, taking both a naturalist and ethnographic perspective.

The building, which came a few years after the establishment of the foundation – the official opening was delayed due to the war and took place in December 1920, in the presence of Prince Albert I and President Alexandre Millerand – is for researchers only and is not open to the public.


Some of the remarkable spaces have served as sets for film shoots. Emmanuel Pontremoli was the architect behind it. The building’s facade, superbly decorated by bas-reliefs created by Constant Roux, the artist responsible for the “Science Discovering the Riches of the Ocean” sculpture in Monaco, is easily accessible and worth seeing. Talking with a number of people from Paris, it is clear that it is a little known location... So, head over to 1 Rue Panhard (metro stop Saint-Marcel, 13th arrondissement)