The Projects for the Centre des Monuments Nationaux Presented by Philippe Bélaval

Jacques-Germain Soufflot (1713-1780)
The Panthéon, Paris
Photo : Romero Schmidtke/
GNU Free documentation license

24/10/12 - Heritage policy - Centre des Monuments Nationaux - Now president of the CMN, Philippe Bélaval presented the future policy of this public establishment which is in charge of managing about one hundred historical monuments.

Like all the large public establishments and the French Ministry of Culture as a whole, notably museums and historical monuments, the CMN will have its operating budget reduced (-2.5%) and its working capital tapped, with 4.7 million euros returning to the State budget [1] !
Despite these significant cuts, Philippe Bélaval stated his determination to pursue projects already underway and continue the CMN’S activities. Savings will have to be made wherever possible. Thus, a major retrospective on the Pantheon architect, Jacques-Germain Soufflot, will be organized inside the building itself in 2013 with Alexandre Gady as curator. In order to lower costs, it will use the layout of the beautiful exhibition Rousseau et les Arts which took place last summer and which we unfortunately did not find the time to discuss here.

Among the large restoration projects, the Pantheon is still a priority. From November 2013 to late 2014, the dome will be entirely restored at an estimated cost of about 20 million euros. The building will soon be structurally unstable and the work is absolutely necessary. Then, for the same reason, in 2014 it will be the turn of the "péristyle" although it might be pushed back one year.
The restoration of the Hôtel de Sully, housing CMN headquarters, will be finished, notably the refurbishment of the apartment of the Duchesse de Sully which will then be open to the public on a limited basis since it cannot welcome more than 19 visitors at a time for security reasons. Philippe Bélaval, who wishes to emphasize the building’s dual interest as a heritage and administrative monument decided to reject the idea of installing a tea salon and a restaurant in the Orangerie. It will instead be used for cultural purposes on the ground floor and also house offices on the upper level.

Among the other major projects now in progress, we should point out the end of the first stage of restoration at the Villa Cavroy by Mallet-Stevens which will open the park and the reception spaces to the public starting in 2013 during the Heritage Days weekend, with the rest to follow in 2015. The château de la Motte-Tilly will also reopen in 2013, while work is to continue at the château d’Angers, at the Mont-Saint-Michel and extensive restoration is to begin next year at the château d’Azay-le-Rideau in the park as well as on the roof.

For the cultural season, there will no longer be a single theme, but rather a choice of various subjects linked to either famous figures, including Soufflot, mentioned above, as well as Le Nôtre next year and in 2014 Viollet-le-Duc and Saint Louis ; or else thematic events (in 2013 Marseille Provence European Capital of Culture, in 2014 the centennial of the Caisse nationale des monuments historiques, the ancestor of the current CMN) ; or finally overlapping themes such as readings in historical monuments, developing musical events or - this is now becoming inevitable everywhere - staging dialogues between contemporary art and heritage.

Finally, Philippe Bélaval indicated that he wished to emphasize parks and gardens as the CMN owns over 900 hectares. Among these, over half concern the Parc de Saint-Cloud. On the subject, we asked the establishment president about his position on the PLU of the city of Saint-Cloud, as the municipal authorities claim that it was the manager who requested that the park zoning not be entirely designated as a natural zone (see article in French). He told us that there is no document attesting to such a request and that he himself was in favor, on the contrary, of maintaining total protection from potential urbanization for this domain.

In concluding, we would like to point out that the Centre des Monuments Nationaux has posted a picture library under the title Regards. We will discuss it further in an upcoming article devoted to internet websites.

Version française

Didier Rykner, jeudi 25 octobre 2012


[1] Although this funding had not yet been specifically assigned, it is obvious that much of it was intended for financing restoration projects.

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