It’s strange to think that back in the early 20th century, this amazing space was Paris’ first and only airport. Now it’s the 25.000m² National Air and Space museum.
Renovating the magnificent art déco building has taken five years, but now the Grand Gallery (233m long and 40m wide, with a 12m-high ceiling) is finally open with a new presentation of the incredible exhibits…
Built in 1935, the Le Bourget airport building (which, before Orly was built, was Paris’ only airport) is in the purest tradition of art déco architecture, with a huge main room (called ‘the eight-columned’ room), bathed in natural light from the glass-bricked ceiling.
Over the years, as the Museum of Air and Space, the room saw footbridges and false ceilings added in some areas, and these have been removed again in the new restoration.
Now, the room is back to its original dimensions and purity, all 4.000m² of it. A visit to the museum is worth it just for to see the incredible art déco venue.
The new layout of the museum shows how man has been attempting (and succeeding) to take to the air since the 18th century, but also includes some very recent ‘flying machines’ including a Boeing 747, an Airbus A380, and life-size models of Ariane rockets, displayed in both eleven exhibition halls and outdoors.
The permanent exhibition also shows how planes changed the world – during wars, for import and export, democratising international tourism…
And for the first time, the former airport’s control tower is open to the public. Climb up to the fourth floor for a very special view!
The museum has big plans for the next few years. The control tower will soon house a permanent exhibitions of flight navigation instruments, and contemporary artists will be given carte blanche to use the eight-columned main room for new works.
The venue will also be used as a media hub in 2024 for the Olympic Games, with other interesting projects and large-scale exhibitions to come.
So many good reasons to go and see the Musée de l’air et de l’espace!