The Bibliothèque Nationale de France Finally Reopens After a Decade of Renovations

All images © Bruno Gaudin Architects

After over a decade of extensive renovations, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France was unveiled last fall. Spanning two sites across France, this library has been around since the 18th century and is an impressive symbol of Henri Labrouste’s architectural legacy. Bruno Gaudin took the lead on renovating this space to give viewers more room to admire the collections and the magnificence of its original Beaux-Arts architecture. Step into the Salle Ovale, a reading room preserved with remarkable detail. You’ll be surrounded by glass vaults that reach up to 60 feet high, intricate mosaics on the ceiling, and hundreds of thousands of volumes border your view in every direction.

To renovate the library, Gaudin designed a steel and aluminum staircase that climbs to the upper floors. Here is where guests will discover an extensive museum and Mazarin Gallery – measuring 150 feet long with its ornately frescoed ceiling. The east and west sides are joined together utilizing a glass walkway boasting an angular roofline, while new accessible entranceways were also added for convenience.

The library houses 22 million items, including books, historical documents, and artwork. From rare Greek vases to works by renowned artists like Rembrandt and Picasso, an engraving by Matisse, the collection is one-of-a-kind in its scale and breadth—it even includes a Gutenberg Bible and Charlemagne’s ivory chess set!