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Most comprehensive exhibition on Prince Rainier III’s work now open

The hall on Quai Antoine I is the setting for the new exhibition, the biggest one in celebration of Prince Rainier III's centenary. © Philippe Fitte

« Le Prince Bâtisseur – Une ambition pour Monaco » (The  Builder Prince – An ambition for Monaco) retraces the life of the Sovereign and the changes that took place in the Principality during his reign. 

It is certainly a must-see. There has been a series of exhibitions this year to mark the centenary of the birth of Prince Rainier III. “Le Prince chez lui” (The Prince at home), “Le Prince et ses animaux” (The Prince and his animals)… And now this one, at Quai Antoine Ier. Officially opened on 20 July, “The Builder Prince” was presented to the press, with the exhibition curators Christian Curau and Stéphane Bern in attendance.


Monaco’s metamorphosis

The exhibition begins with the Sovereign’s youth, before he became Prince of Monaco. He studied, fought in the Second World War alongside the French army and then, on a sunny day in 1950, he became head of state of the Principality. Plans for his future reign were already set out: Rainier Grimaldi wanted to shape the Principality and rid it of the clichés.

One of the first sections of the exhibition is dedicated to the accession of Prince Rainier III and his marriage to Grace Kelly. © Philippe Fitte

And that’s what the Prince went on to do. After a corridor dedicated to his marriage to Grace Kelly, which drew almost 1,800 journalists on the day, the exhibition takes us through the many architectural achievements that the Sovereign led, undertook and inaugurated. To illustrate them, a number of models and many photos take us back in time to the transformation of an entire country: the Louis-II Stadium is completed while Fontvieille is being built, the foundations of the hospital are laid, the Larvotto beaches see the light of day, a very young Albert of Monaco cuts the ceremonial ribbon at Monaco station tunnel.

All of which is fittingly accompanied by an evolving decor, designed by Coraline Delorme and Thomas Guillaume. The two young scenographers, who have just graduated from the Pavillon Bosio, worked in close collaboration with the Direction des Affaires Culturelles (Cultural Affairs Department) and the exhibition curators. An intimate atmosphere for the Prince’s personal life gives way to sheet metal, concrete and wood in the areas that deal with the architectural projects.

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Building an image and more

“He built the Principalitys reputation, economy and commitments,” says Stéphane Bern, continuing with the exhibition. The journalist describes the beginnings of Monaco’s commitment to the environment, launched by the Sovereign in the 1970s, followed by his handling of diplomatic relations with France and internationally.

There is a transition between the architectural achievements and the rest of the exhibition. © Philippe Fitte

Not forgetting the Société des Bains de mer, through which Prince Rainier III wanted to do away with the image tourists had of a winter resort. A number of posters from the period illustrate his wish, showing men and women in swimming costumes and evening wear, with the message “What a joy to spend the summer in Monte-Carlo”.

“My work will not end with me. What we do, we do with our successor in mind.” This quotation from the Sovereign, one of several on display, brings the exhibition to a close. Come and discover what went into a 55-year reign, at 4 Quai Antoine Ier, until 31 December. Admission is free!

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