The Staircase at the BnF still in Grave Danger

Jean-Louis Pascal (1837-1920)
Staircase Leading to the Cabinet des Médailles
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, site Richelieu
Photo : Didier Rykner

10/8/12 - Heritage - Paris, Bibliothèque nationale - A little over two years ago, we wrote that the staircase at the BnF, by the architect Jean-Louis Pascal, would "no doubt be saved" (see article in French). However, when speaking about anything concerning national heritage and involving the French Minister of Culture, it is wiser to be a little more cautious in one’s assertions. Indeed, what Frédéric Mitterand had very informally decided to do given the opposition by supporters wishing to save this work, which we remind our readers is listed as a historical monument, the very same Frédéric Mitterand then proceeded to cancel.

Several people had warned us over the last few months : the staircase, still without any official or definitive decision concerning its conservation, will be destroyed unless the new minister does something to save it.
In fact, according to our sources, Frédéric Mitterand even sent a letter to the architect Bruno Gaudin in charge of the project confirming that he could carry out his plans and eliminate the staircase ; Gaudin’s office is closed, no doubt due to the summer holiday, and we were thus unable to make our inquiries. In the same way, we addressed our questions to the Ministry of Culture which will answer in a more precise way next week with the return of the heritage advisor but here we were told that they had now taken note and were informed.

We cannot help but wonder at this determination to destroy a building protected by an institution, the Bibliothèque nationale, traditionally committed to safeguarding national heritage. We hope that Aurélie Filippetti who acted so wisely to save the rue des Carmes in Orleans will know how to respect the laws protecting historical monuments since, in this case, the decision is entirely hers.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 14 août 2012

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