Jesse Owens
Olympism: a History of the World
All publics
From April 26th to September 8th 2024

Olympism: a History of the World

From April 26th to September 8th 2024

An exhibition, 33 Olympiads and over a whole century of social and political history. From April 26th to September 8th, come and discover the Olympic saga through the crises, struggles, victories and major battles that have shaped our contemporary world. In 2024, France will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris - the first time a summer Games has been staged in 100 years. This exhibition, the first of its kind in France, brings together 130 years of memorable images, exceptional archives and portraits of athletes with astonishing destinies.

Affiche de l'exposition "Olympisme, une histoire du monde"
Jesse Owens™ owned and licensed by the Jesse Owens Trust, c/o Luminary Group,

From the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 to the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games 2024

The exhibition ‘Olympism: A History of the World’ looks back over 130 years of geopolitical, social, political and cultural changes, starting with the birth of the modern Olympics and celebrating the achievement of some of the great Olympic champions.

The exhibition is laid out chronologically, taking visitors on a journey through the 33 modern Olympiads, from Athens 1896 to Paris 2024, including the games that never took place (1916, 1940, 1944). Including almost 600 artworks, documents, archive films, objects, press articles and photographs, the exhibition juxtaposes historic events with sporting exploits and the illustrious figures who embodied them.

This is a truly global history, complete with major international conflicts and era-defining combats: struggles for equality, the battle against racism and discrimination in all its forms, and the progressive opening up of the Games to all of the world’s nations and peoples, in a spirit of inclusion which has seen the Olympics become a platform for gender parity and women’s rights, civil rights and the fight to end apartheid, and now for environmental causes.

This exhibition and its accompanying catalogue reaffirm the commitment of the Palais de la Porte Dorée to all of these values, which inform and inspire our scientific and cultural ambitions, our actions and our events.

Exhibition curators

  • Nicolas Bancel
    Historian (Université de Lausanne)
  • Pascal Blanchard
    Historian (Université de Lausanne)
  • Yvan Gastaut
    Historian (Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis)
  • Sébastien Gökalp
    Senior curator (directeur du Musée de Grenoble)
  • Élisabeth Jolys-Shimells
    Senior curator, head of collections at the Musée national de l'histoire de l'immigration (Paris)
  • Sandrine Lemaire
    Historian (CPGE Lycée Jean Jaurès de Reims)
  • Stéphane Mourlane
    Historian (Aix-Marseille Université)

Books about the exhibition

Catalogue Olympisme
  • The exhibition catalogue: Olympisme, Une histoire du monde. Des premiers jeux olympiques d’Athènes 1896 aux jeux olympiques et paralympiques de Paris 2024. Éditions de La Martinière, 576 pages, 65 €.

This key book on the 30 Summer Olympic Games, from 1896 to 2024, pays tribute to the athletes with more than a thousang images. At the same time, about sixty French and international specialists offer a comprehensive overview of each of the Olympiads, providing a resolutely transnational "world history" of modern Olympism.

Find out more about the catalogue

Over the 130 years of the Olympic Games (since the founding congress in Paris in 1894), we have seen the major changes in our societies and the political, economic and cultural issues at stake.

This exhibition catalogue presented at the Palais de la Porte Dorée retraces the construction of nation states, the emergence of mass culture, the inter-war period marked by the opposition between totalitarianism and democracy, the Cold War, the waves of decolonisation, the demands of minorities, the commitment of immigrants and the struggles of emerging countries. It also talks about economic globalisation and the gigantic scale of the contemporary Olympic Games, and the recognition of Paralympism, and it addresses the ethical and societal issues that are currently permeating the Olympic movement and raising questions about the future of the Games in the 21st century.

Edited by Pascal Blanchard, Nicolas Bancel, Claude Boli, Daphné Bolz, Pascal Charitas, Sylvère-Henry Cissé, Yvan Gastaut, Sébastien Gökalp, Élisabeth Jolys-Shimells, Sandrine Lemaire, Stéphane Mourlane, Philippe Tétart and Dominic Thomas.

Also on the editor's website

Ouvrage Olympisme, une histoire en 30 dates
  • Olympisme, une histoire en 30 dates, Éditions Quelle histoire, 96 pages, 13,95 €.

A book to know everything about the Olympic Games through portraits of athletes who have marked history !
For young readers aged 10 and over, Olympisme, une histoire en 30 dates takes a documented and entertaining look at some fascinating facts about the Olympic Games from 1896 to today.

Find out more about the children's book

The Palais de la Porte Dorée and Quelle Histoire have joined forces to make a book on the history of the Olympic Games for 7-10 year-olds. Through portraits of athletes who have left their mark on history, this book retraces the great moments of the 30 Olympiads, with the historical context of each era. It's a rich, accurate, accessible and fun book for the youngest readers.

"Did you know that the Olympic Games were created in Antiquity and that their modern form comes from the end of the 19th century? And since 1896, world conflicts have punctuated sporting competition. As you explore the 30 summer Olympiads brought together here, discover the athletes who have left their mark on history, the values that govern the Olympic Games and lots of other fascinating facts!"


Press release: "Olympism: a History of the World"
pdf - 669.53 KB
Livret en Facile à lire et à comprendre - exposition "Olympisme : une histoire du monde"
pdf - 2.82 MB

Exhibition organised in partnership with the ACHAC research group (as part of the ‘History, Sport & Citizenship’ programme).

This exhibition is supported by the Banque Populaire’s Casden fund.

An exhibition forming part of the ‘Cultural Olympiad’.
Under the patronage of Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic.

Au programme

  • Tout public


In partnership with

Media partnership