The first phase of the renovation process consists of the complete restoration of the museum building. Alongside this the necessary modifications for its functioning as a contemporary museum will be introduced.
New welcome pavilion
The most striking element is without doubt the new welcome pavilion which is situated between the Director’s building and the Colonial palace.
Ticket sales, the shop, restaurant, picnic area for children and the cloakrooms, will be transferred here from the main museum building. This optimises the role of the reception area and is a means of enlarging and improving the new permanent exhibition space in the museum building.
An underground gallery will take you from the reception pavilion to the old museum building. This is where new temporary exhibition spaces are housed. Visitors enter the museum building via the current cellar floor. The first part of the new permanent exhibition will be displayed on this underground level of the museum building. The remainder of the exhibition will be situated on the ground floor.
The museum building is being renovated and restored with respect for the original, listed architectural concept. It regains the light and transparency which the architect Girault had had in mind when the museum was under construction. The building’s original perspectives and views are opened out.
A contemporary feel is given to the inner courtyard. An excavated portion creates a skylight for the underground portion and can also be used as an open-air theatre.
Restoration is being conducted following preliminary investigations on the gilded and plaster statues, the marble, the parquet, used pigments, foundations, stonework, and the façade.
The top layer of the murals was painstakingly removed centimetre by centimetre using a specially formulated product that will not damage the layers of paint underneath. In 1957, the murals were seriously damaged in some places when the walls were cleaned before being repainted. The walls of this room were originally intended for a decorative frieze with a repeating pattern, an entire fragment of which has now been exposed. Large sections of the original stencil were carefully recreated. All murals and stencils are now restored.