The familiars call it the Vincennes zoo – although, administratively speaking, it is located on the territory of the capital – and the nit-pickers correct it by specifying its official name of Zoological Park of Paris. But all agree on one point: the emblem of this establishment of the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) is indeed the Great Rock, where formerly cuffed sheep and markhors, goats with spiral horns came to frolic. Himalayan law. “The Grand Rocher, which rises to 65 meters, dates back to 1934, to the origins of the zoo, recalls Pierre-Yves Bureau, director of the Paris Zoological Park. It is made of a metal structure covered by shotcrete, which was an architectural feat at the time. ” Because the building is a hollow tooth sheltering technical spaces, as well as a water tower of 800 cubic meters and a large reservoir which supply water to the basins of the park.
Tired, the Great Rock was restored in the 1990s, but it has been closed to visitors since 2008. The MNHN therefore wishes to rehabilitate the ground floor of this concrete cathedral… with the financial support of the public. A call for donations has just been launched to collect 100,000 euros, out of the 900,000 euros excluding taxes provided for in the budget for this work. “We do not meet safety standards to be able to welcome the public, explains Pierre-Yves Bureau. It is necessary to carry out electrical modernizations and reinforce the slabs of the ground, in order to increase the reception surface. To the current 370 square meters, we would add 600 square meters and this new space could host events and exhibitions. ” Work should start in the summer of 2022 for a reopening in the second half of 2023.
This is not the first time that the Museum has appealed to the generosity of the public, underlines Sylvie Apollin, Director of Development at the MNHN: “The previous campaign, still in progress, aims to collect donations for the restoration of the mammoth of Durfort and it has, to date, drained 170,000 euros. ” The appeal for donations for the restoration of twenty-four statues in the Jardin des Plantes raised the same type of amount. “These campaigns are not only intended to achieve a financial objective but also to renew the public’s interest in heritage objects, continues Sylvie Apollin. The Grand Rocher is an emblematic element: in addition to being very visible in the Parisian topography, it lives in the memorial landscape of a large number of people. “
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