Paris: preview visit of the gigantic construction site of the Grand Palais |  Knowledge of the Arts

Paris: preview visit of the gigantic construction site of the Grand Palais | Knowledge of the Arts

Closed since March 2021, the Grand Palais, an emblematic monument of the capital’s heritage and culture, is continuing its transformation. Monday, June 25, the progress of this titanic project in the heart of Paris was unveiled to the press. Discover our preview visit.

Eighteen months after the start of the pharaonic construction of the Big palace, Chris Dercon, president of the Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais, and the architect François Chatillon unveiled to the press, this Monday, June 27, the progress of the restoration and development work, the key words of which are: fluidity , light and polychromy. A project that is very impressive, especially in spaces that have long been closed to the public. From the exposed Grand Nave to the new galleries, discover the Big palace like you’ve never seen.


Ocher under glass

With its 13,500 m2 surface area, crowned by a 17,500 m2 glass roof, the Great Nave of the Big palace remains to this day the largest nave in Europe. We see it here exposed by the restoration work. On the left, earth of ocher considered for the color of the floor. But nothing is decided yet.

The restoration of the Nave and its balconies will increase its capacity by more than 60% (i.e. from 5,600 to 9,000 people) ©Céline Lefranc

Bronze’s Victory

On the ramp Art Nouveau of the Main Staircase, various color tests were carried out. The “priming yellow” applied during the last restoration, carried out in 2000 by Alain-Charles Perrault, will be replaced by three shades of “bronzine”, a bronze-coloured paint which will be much more in harmony with the green of the structure of The canopy.

Archaeological research has revealed the original colors of the Main Staircase of the Grand Palais: bronzine and reseda green, developed by the Ripolin firm for the construction of the monument in 1900 ©Céline Lefranc

Archaeological research has revealed the original colors of the Main Staircase of the Grand Palais: bronzine and reseda green, developed by the Ripolin firm for the construction of the monument in 1900 ©Céline Lefranc

Discovery of the Central Square

Nice surprise between the great nave and the Palace of Discovery: the huge Place Centrale, which will be accessible free of charge and will allow walkers to spend Champs-Elysees on the banks of the Seine. Behind the tarpaulins hide the “horse ramps” that riders used to use to go from the carousel, located in the basement, to the nave.

Accessible to all visitors, the Place Centrale will also serve the new basement area, which will house the Galerie des Enfants and a service area ©Céline Lefranc

Accessible to all visitors, the Place Centrale will also serve the new basement area, which will notably house the Children’s Gallery where exhibitions for children aged 3 to 10 will be presented ©Céline Lefranc

3D projection of the Central Square of the Grand Palais ©Chatillon Architectes for the Rmn - Grand Palais, 2022

3D projection of the Central Square of the Grand Palais ©Chatillon Architectes for the Rmn – Grand Palais, 2022

Fluidity and natural light

After knocking down the walls and partitions, you can finally set the nave, the Place Centrale and the ovoid rotunda of the Palais de la Découverte on fire with a single glance. The strong idea of ​​François Chatillon’s project is to give back to the building its fluidity and the natural light it enjoyed during its construction, on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1900.

This vast space of 1,000 m2 was previously partitioned off and concealed.  the New Grand Palais revives the effect of transparency desired by these designers.  ©Celine Lefranc

This vast space of 1,000 m2 was previously partitioned off and concealed. the New Grand Palais revives the effect of transparency desired by these designers. ©Celine Lefranc

Beautiful mosaics

The original mosaics of the Palais d’Antin (Palais de la Découverte), made of porcelain stoneware, a mixture of clay and silica fired at very high temperatures, are restored on site by specialized craftsmen. After that of the rotunda, magnificent with its acanthus leaf motifs, it is the turn of those of the galleries, simpler.

The Palais de la Découverte, museum of science and knowledge, has occupied the Palais d'Antin since 1937, a space with its own decorative vocabulary.  ©Celine Lefranc

The Palais de la Découverte, museum of science and knowledge, has occupied the Palais d’Antin since 1937, a space with its own decorative vocabulary. ©Celine Lefranc

3D projection of the Rotonde d'Antin ©Chatillon Architectes for the Rmn - Grand Palais, 2022

3D projection of the Rotonde d’Antin ©Chatillon Architectes for the Rmn-Grand Palais, 2022

The old access to the Planetarium

One of the two staircases of the Palais d’Antin, which led to the Planetarium (which will be moved). The windows will be restored, as well as the decorations in optical illusion, long hidden by wooden panels. The molding of the upper gallery will be restored. On the other hand, the floor, which may never have received mosaics, could remain in concrete.

Former reception hall for visitors to the Palais de la Découverte, the restored rotunda will be accessible to all visitors.  ©Celine Lefranc

Former reception hall for visitors to the Palais de la Découverte, the restored rotunda will be accessible to all visitors. ©Celine Lefranc

Farewell to horse ramps

The foundations are very spectacular. Realized in a rather rustic way, since the building was to be destroyed after the Universal Exhibition, they housed the equestrian activities: the carousel and the famous access ramps for the horses, of which we can guess one here, seen from below. Efficiency requires, these ramps will be replaced by stairs.

Accessible from the Place Centrale, the basements will offer a vast space to the public which will house the Children's Gallery, a service area (changing rooms and toilets) and the reception area for school and extracurricular groups.

Accessible from the Place Centrale, the basements will offer a vast space to the public which will house the Children’s Gallery, a service area (changing rooms and toilets) and the reception area for school and extracurricular groups. ©Celine Lefranc

The new galleries

What used to be called the National Galleries, that is to say the spaces dedicated to temporary exhibitions organized by the RMN, will become the Galeries Seine and the Galeries Champs-Élysées. They will regain their original natural light. While it was decided to keep certain fittings from the 1970s, this rotunda has, for its part, remained in its 1900 juice.

The Grand Palais will benefit from 6 galleries with museum standards dedicated to exhibitions.  ©Celine Lefranc

The Grand Palais will benefit from six galleries with museographic standards dedicated to exhibitions. ©Celine Lefranc

3D projection of the North-East Gallery © Chatillon Architectes for the Rmn - Grand Palais, 2022

3D projection of the North-East Gallery © Chatillon Architectes for the Rmn – Grand Palais, 2022


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