59 Rivoli is a collective of 30 artists’ studios (20 belonging to permanent residents and 10 for temporary residents) that is open to the public year-round, Tuesday through Sunday from 1PM to 8PM. You do not need reservations (although large groups may want to call ahead just to give the studios a heads up), nor is there an entrance fee (although donations are welcome). You do not need to be an artist yourself, just walk in! On the ground and 1st floor is a gallery housing temporary exhibits, concerts every Saturday afternoon and frequent special events. This artists’ collective started as a squatters’ quarters in 1999 an abandoned bank building and was purchased by the city of Paris in 2002, marking the start of a partnership between the artists and the city. Now, the studios receive approximately 1500 visitors each week. (source)
The mid-1800s Haussmann era building at 59 Rivoli was an artist squat for years before being renovated by the city and returned to a collective of artists.
After Crédit Lyonnais abandoned the space, a group of artists called “KGB” (standing for Kalex, Gaspard, and Bruno) claimed the building in 1999. Despite the dead pigeons and syringes that littered the deteriorating structure, the group was soon hosting exhibitions and performances under the name “Chez Robert, électrons libres.” Although the space was illegally occupied, by 2001 it was getting 40,000 visitors a year, making it the third most visited center for contemporary art in Paris.
In 2006, the city of Paris acquired 59 Rivoli as part of its effort to bring legality and building safety to popular illegal artist squats. After renovations, it reopened in 2009 with studios for over 30 artists who pay minimal rent. The six stories of 59 Rivoli and its exhibits are free and open to the public. While the wild art that once covered the facade is now much more tame, there are still whimsical and expressive installations that turn up on the stone exterior.