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In the Shadow of the Tower (Exhibition Exposed)

Professor Andrew Hussey travels across Paris to understand how the Eiffel Tower, and the huge World's Fair of 1889 that gave birth to it, have shaped French culture.

Professor Andrew Hussey travels across Paris to understand how the Eiffel Tower, and the huge World's Fair that gave birth to it, shaped French culture.

The Exposition Universelle of 1889 was a vast showground of science and culture which attracted 30 million visitors to Paris. The world had never seen such technology, art, music, and futuristic architecture gathered in one place.

Andrew Hussey chases the shadows it cast, glimpses of its colossal political ambition - to put France back on the world stage; to define what it meant to be French, and what it meant to be civilised.

He walks the streets of Paris with author Eric Hazan, re-imagines the Belle Epoque and the spectacle - the iron, the glass, the noise - with novelist and poet Patrick McGuinness. And strolling past Debussy, Paul Gauguin, Thomas Edison and other visitors, he ascends the Tower itself with architect Bertrand Lemoine, as it climbs ever taller and ever thinner into the Parisian sky. And finds not just a phantasmagoria of republicanism, art and progress, but a long shadow - a colonial legacy, a Human Zoo, which created debates which still resonate in French culture today.

Producer: Melvin Rickarby.

Available now

45 minutes

Music Played

  • Johannes Brahms

    Standchen / Serenade Op.106 no.1

    Performer: Benjamin Appl; James Baillieu.

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