france pavilion expo 2020
The French Pavilion brings a piece of its history to Dubai with the Encyclopedie of Diderot & d'Alembert, a work of progressive thought that spurred reform movements in 18th-century France. Visit the pavilion at Expo 2020 beginning on October 1, 2021. Image Credit: YouTube/France Dubai 2020

Dubai: France will showcase a revolutionary body of work that championed the human intellect in the 18th-century at Expo 2020 Dubai.

All 35 volumes of ‘The Encyclopedie’, or Encyclopaedia in English, edited by Diderot & d'Alembert, will headline the permanent exhibition in the French Pavilion, where visitor experience is largely framed around the theme of light and enlightenment.

The theme unfolds in every nook and cranny of the structure; photovoltaic solar tiles are used on the pavilion facade and humanity's pursuit of knowledge is celebrated through exhibitions.

L'Encyclopédie de Diderot et d'Alembert France Dubai 2020

Where will the ‘Encyclopedie’ be displayed?

Visitors will find the original edition in the heart of the pavilion, where a permanent exhibition titled 'Progress' is made up of three spaces: ‘Light, Enlightenment’, ‘Mobility’ and ‘Connecting minds, Creating the future’.

The loaned volumes from the French National Archives will be showcased in the first space, ‘Light, Enlightenment’.

All of the thirty-five volumes loaned from the French National Archives will be on display inside the permanent exhibition, ‘Light, Enlightenment’, at the French Pavilion. Image Credit: Supplied

What is it about?

From 1751 to 1780, the 35 volumes of ‘Encyclopedie’, also known as the ‘Classified Dictionary of Sciences, Arts and Crafts’, were published secretly for their philosophical and scientific content amassed from all over the world.

Hailed as the embodiment of progressive thought, the epochal work fuelled reform movements that eventually led to the French Revolution of 1789.

france pavilion expo 2020
Because of its philosophical and scientific contents, the ‘Encyclopedie’ had to be published gradually and secretly over a period of nearly 30 years. Image Credit: YouTube/France Dubai 2020

The project originally began as a French translation of Ephraim Chambers’ ‘Cyclopaedia’, the success of which drove mathematician Jean Le Rond d'Alembert and philosopher Denis Diderot to translate and expand the volume in France.

Well-known contributors of ‘Encyclopedie’ include Enlightenment philosophers Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire.

Brush up on your French history

If the dated archives leave you curious for more, visit the monthly temporary exhibitions at the pavilion to catch the construction timeline of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral.

- The writer is an intern with Gulf News.