The creation of the Reading Room
The Reading Room is a major element of the Condé Museum. It was designed as a showcase to house the exceptional heritage of the Bourbon-Condé princes’ manuscripts and the extremely rare collection built up by the Duke of Aumale from 1850 onwards. For the “prince of bibliophiles”, the architect Honoré Daumet (1826-1911) designed a modern library from 1875 to 1876, using the most recent technologies of the time. He integrated it remarkably well into the structure of the Petit Château, which had been built during the Renaissance. It is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.
The library created in Orléans House during the prince’s exile in Twickenham (England) served as a reference. For the reader’s comfort and the books’ safety, the best techniques of the time were used, ensuring that both aspects were satisfied in every possible way, which makes this library even more fascinating. An inspiring decor, glass-fronted cabinets, adjustable lecterns, retractable maps, gas lighting… everything was designed to favour the study of the collections and enchant readers.
From floor to ceiling, the exhibition presents the secrets of the Reading Room, the sources of inspiration of the prince and the architect, the technical feats of the builders and the challenges of the restoration ahead. The old display case for the prince’s treasures allows exceptional pieces to be discovered.
Venue: Château/The Reading Room
Exhibition included in the 1-day ticket without any extra charge
Marie-Pierre Dion, general libraries curator, Condé Museum
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