The Cultural Services of the French Embassy is headquartered in New York City in the landmark Payne Whitney Mansion, located on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
As the headquarters of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Payne Whitney Mansion is the beating heart of a network of creative thought and innovation across the United States, integrating a storied cultural history with cutting-edge design.
Within the Payne Whitney Mansion, visitors also find Albertine Books, a reading room and center for transatlantic literary exchange, devoted to books in French and English.
As one of the few remaining buildings from the Gilded Age architectural period, the Stanford White-designed Payne Whitney Mansion at 972 Fifth Avenue offers an unparalleled blend of history, location, design, and elegance.
Steeped in the history of turn-of-the-century New York, Renaissance Europe, and France, the mansion transports visitors to another epoch and offers the height of sophistication in the 21st century. Its iconic location, across from Central Park and on Museum Mile, is highly desirable and easily accessible.
The Marble Rotunda
The Payne Whitney Mansion’s elegant doors lead to the marble rotunda, featuring a dome ceiling, fountain, and a statute of Young Archer, an early work attributed to Michelangelo.
Young Archer was first identified by New York University Institute of Fine Arts Professor Kathleen Wil-Garris Brandt, with the support of James David Draper, Curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Venetian Room
Off the rotunda is one of the architect’s most original creations, a true museum piece with ornate mirrored panel walls and 18th-century European furnishings.
Referred to as the “Venetian Room” in the 1930s by Helen Hay Whitney, the room was designed by Stanford White, known for his attention to interiors, to capture the effect of a hall of mirrors in gilded rococo frames. Constructed by the New York office of the French firm Allard et fils, the room was furnished with pieces purchased by Stanford White and the Whitney family in Europe in the summer of 1905.
Today the interior, restored with the support of friends of the Embassy and the French American Foundation, features original furnishings, including Meissen porcelain and 18th century portraits and furnishings.
The Marble Room and Ballroom
A wide, gracious stairway leads from the rotunda directly to the Marble Room, a reception space of classic proportions, with gilded, mirrored doors on opposite walls of this salon. The Ballroom features a series of oversized windows that overlook Fifth Avenue and Central Park.
The Marble Room and Ballroom are the Embassy’s primary reception rooms and have marked critical moments in French-American diplomacy for over fifty years. Distinguished leaders such as François Mitterrand and Ban Ki-Moon, Nobel laureates such as Albert Fert and Joseph Stiglitz, world renowned artists such as Ellsworth Kelly and Richard Serra, and filmmakers and stars including Meryl Streep, Jim Jarmusch, and Wes Anderson have all graced these rooms.
The Marble Room and Ballroom have been restored thanks to a recent renovation by the master craftsmen of Atelier de Ricou, with the generous support of Vera Wang and William and Clémence von Mueffling.
The Fifth Floor Studio
An oasis overlooking Central Park and Museum Mile, the Fifth Floor Studio features inviting original details, including a brick fireplace, tommettes de Provence flooring, and a wooden vaulted ceiling painted with ornate rosettes.
After a contemporary renovation to this architectural treasure by notable French-Mexican architect and interior design Hugo Torro, the Florence Gould Writer’s Atelier will serve as an intimate setting for dinners, meetings, and small receptions.
Tucked inside the Payne Whitney mansion, Albertine is the only bookshop in New York devoted solely to books in French and English with more than 14,000 contemporary and classic titles. Featuring a celestial painted ceiling in the style of a Renaissance fresco, visitors are invited to discover the best of French and francophone literature and ideas in this intimate space.
The space reflects the French government’s belief in the power of literature and the humanities to increase understanding and friendship across borders and in the power of books as a common good for a better world.
Albertine hosts lively debates and discussions exploring popular and classical culture through a modern and global lens.
The Florence Gould Garden
A peaceful respite, the Payne Whitney Mansion’s adjoining contemporary garden is among the few private gardens along Fifth Avenue’s Museum Mile and offers guests an outdoor space for receptions and other gatherings. It is a delightful venue for any warm weather event. An elegant, zen-like design gives the space tremendous malleability, and it features lighting design by Hervé Descottes.
Restored to their original detail thanks to a recent renovation by the master craftsmen of Atelier de Ricou, each room of the Payne Whitney Mansion reflects the harmonious vision of renowned architect Stanford White.
The last building designed during his lifetime, the home represents the final creation of an era of elegance and craftsmanship that gave rise to other New York landmarks such as the Washington Square Arch and the original McKim, Mead and White Pennsylvania Station.
Featuring panoramic views across Central Park, wrought iron doors, and marble detailing, we invite you to discover the headquarters of Villa Albertine and home of French Culture in the US.
The Payne Whitney Mansion offers select availability for private events and provides an unparalleled setting for celebrations and gatherings, from intimate dinners to iconic film shoots.
For further information, please contact:
Douglas Kiman, Development & Partnerships Officer