The National Navy Museum in Paris has opened after a refurbishment. Visitors have been able to explore the new exhibition rooms since 17 November. The h2o and Snøhetta studios are responsible for the interior design. The result is a bright space, full of edginess and modernist accents.
The new interior design is reminiscent of the design of the MAXXI Museum in Rome by Zaha Hadid Architects. There, too, the museum space is dominated by white and round shapes. The National Maritime Museum in Paris is to be more attractive to visitors after its reconstruction. The architects had to redesign the functional layout with exhibition halls and technical rooms for the staff.
The new interiors are characterised by curved and circular forms that fit into the existing geometry of the building. This is intended to evoke the natural movement of water. The use of curves visually unifies the interior, creating a space that makes it easier to explore the interior of the museum. The starkness of the black and white was broken up with a warm shade of wood on the floor.
The National Navy Museum is housed in the Palais de Chaillot, which was built in 1878 and rebuilt by architects Carlu, Boileau and Azém for the 1937 World Exposition. Today, the palace is listed as a historic building and has heritage status. The historic nature of the space was a challenge; the architects had to consult with the conservation officer about their decisions. The aim was to display paintings, models and other artefacts related to the sea in the best possible way.
Visitors can explore the museum using a number of designated paths dedicated to specific topics. The conquest of the seas, freedom, wealth, adventure, the fragility of the world and the future of the Earth are highlighted. The starting point each time is a quiet and intimate atrium. Passing through it, visitors gradually discover the world of the museum and proceed to the full-height central hall. This is the heart of the building, from which visitors can proceed to the exhibition space, restaurant, bookshop and gift shop. The facility has also created rooms for educational activities.
The National Navy Museum in Paris has more than 30,000 works in its collection. The facility also has nearly 3,000 ship models from all eras. Visitors should be interested in Napoleon I’s imperial boat, built in 1810, among others.
photos: Maxime Verret for h2o architectes and Snøhetta
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