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 Grand Palais, 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 work of restoration and development whose key words are: fluidity, light and polychromy. A project that is very impressive, especially in spaces that have long been closed to the public. From the bare Grand nave to the new galleries, discover the Grand Palais as you’ve never seen it before.
Ocher under glass
With its 13,500 m2 surface area, crowned by a 17,500 m2 glass roof, the Great Nave of the Grand Palais 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.
On the Art Nouveau banister of the Escalier d’Honneur, 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.
Discovery of the Central Square
Nice surprise between the great nave and the Palais de la Découverte: the huge Place Centrale, which will be accessible free of charge and will allow walkers to go from the Champs-Élysées to 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.
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.
The original mosaics of the Palais d’Antin (Palais de la Découverte), made of porcelain stoneware, a mixture of clay and silica fired at a very high temperature, 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 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 trompe-l’oeil decorations, 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.
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.
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.
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