La salle Oval, the only freely-accessible reading room in the National Library of France.
  • After 12 years of renovations, the National Library of France’s Richelieu site will fully reopen in 2022.
  • The stunning library dates back to the 18th century and holds over 22 million objects and documents.
  • Apart from the public library, part of the building has been turned into a museum.
  • For more stories, go to,

After a 12-year-long renovation, the National Library of France’s Richelieu site will fully reopen in September 2022 — and it’s every bibliophile’s dream come true.

Spearheaded by Bruno Gaudin Architectes, a France-based architectural firm, the renovation transformed the historic Paris library with new corridors, storage areas, as well as a museum space.

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France Richelieu underwent major renovation works from 2011 to 2022.

“Yesterday, closed in on itself, the large, magnificent, worn, fragmented, dark and dilapidated treasure chest has now been given a new identity, full of light,” Bruno Gaudin Architects said in a press statement to Insider.

The library dates back to the 18th century, with various extensions added throughout the following years, per the The New York Times,

La salle Oval, the only freely-accessible reading room in the National Library of France.

The renovated Oval Room, one of the library’s reading rooms, has been updated with new shelves and lighting structures.

In the past, entry to the Oval Room was restricted to scholars and students, per the Times. Now, it’s the only reading room in the library that the public can access for free, per Bruno Gaudin Architectes.

The Labrouste Room, one of the other reading rooms of the library.

The Labrouste Room, with its soaring arched ceilings supported by slender iron columns, has also been restored.

It is home to the Library of the National Institute for Art History (INHA), and access is limited to those with valid research passes,

One of the smaller reading rooms.

A glass corridor leads to a new museum space, which houses about 900 artifacts in the library’s collection, per the New York Times.

These items include sculptures, photographs, and even manuscripts from famous French writers like Victor Hugo and Marcel Proust.

A glass corridor over the roof leads to a new museum space.

“The glass gallery offers a view to the roof, and the sky, with a surprising view of the domes of the Labrouste hall,” according to Bruno Gaudin Architectes. “The translucent glass floors allow light to penetrate downward, accentuating the beautiful verticality of the staircase’s rotunda.”

One of the archival rooms in the library.

Only a small part of the library is public space; the majority of the site is used for storage purposes and offices. Hidden from the public eye are new archival and storage shelves used to hold the rest of the library’s collection.

In all, the Richelieu site is home to 22 million objects and documents out of the library’s 40 million items, per the Times.

“After 15 years of work, we have returned a building that has been profoundly transformed to meet the contemporary challenges of welcoming the public, opening it up to the city, and sharing and exchanging with the younger generations,” Bruno Gaudin Architectes said in their statements

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