In July, I head off to do archival research at the Richelieu site of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF) in Paris. The site is currently undergoing a large-scale renovation (although, thankfully, it doesn’t look like it will interfere with my work there). Archival spaces like the BNF are second homes for historians and other researchers, so I thought it’s a good opportunity to show one of France’s great archival institutions undergoing renovation.
Built in the nineteenth century, the Richelieu Library is the ‘historical cradle’ of the BNF, before a new centre was built on the Seine banks under the Mitterand Government in the 1980s (hence, the François Mitterand Library). Today, it houses the BNF’s special collections: performing arts, maps and plans, prints and photographs, manuscripts, coins, medals and antiquities.
The Richelieu Library is pretty spectucular. It’s everything we imagine a grand library to be, from massive, book-lined walls to the banker lamps on the desks. From 2009/2010, it’s been going through an equally spectacular staged renovation that is due for completion in 2020.
In December last year, one of the key stages was complete. The Labrouste Reading Room (pictured below) and Manuscript Room were completed as part of this stage.
I believe work has started on the equally impressive Oval Room (pictured below).
Source of above photo: Photographer Guillaume Dutreix (@guillaume_dx) on Instagram.
You can watch a short video documentary (14mins) about the renovation project. It is in French, but you can get the idea.
You can discover more about the Richelieu renovation project here: http://www.bnf.fr/en/bnf/renovation_work_richelieu.html