The Carnegie Municipal Library in Reims
The Carnegie Library is a notable monument in Reims renowned for its Art Deco architecture. The Library houses an important collection of ancient manuscripts, crime novels and documents on the Dreyfus Affair.
Born in Scotland, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) is an industrial magnate who became an American citizen and who played a decisive role in the development of the American steel industry. A philanthropist, Carnegie made several donations to different foundations, cultural associations, and charitable works all over the world. In fact, his various donations total about 400 million dollars!
In the USA, a whopping 2,500 public libraries bear the name Carnegie. Thanks to the Carnegie endowment, the city of Reims was able to have its municipal Art Deco library constructed. It was inaugurated in 1928.
A History of the Carnegie Library in Reims
Reims was devastated by WWI. German troops heavily bombarded the city with the sole objective of demoralizing the population. After the war, the Carnegie Endowment Fund for International Peace donated $200,000 so that the city could rebuild its library.
Max Sainsaulieu, a Reims native, was in charge of the library’s construction. He was also involved in the conservation efforts concerning the city’s cathedral. As an architect of historical monuments, he was in charge of protecting the western facade of the cathedral during the war as that was where the city’s emblem, the Ange au Sourire (the Smiling Angel) was kept.
It was decided that the Carnegie Library in Reims would take inspiration from the Art Deco movement to create an elegant and modern building. Its 1928 inauguration took place in the presence of the President of the French Republic, Gaston Dournergue, and the Ambassador of the United States, Myton Herrick.
A Remarkable Art Deco Decoration
A veritable Art Deco masterpiece in France, the Carnegie Library in Reims has been a registered historical monument since 1983.
Among its most notable decorative elements there is a wrought-iron door, beautiful mosaics, a chandelier in the grand entrance hall, and large panoramic windows.
Nowadays, the Carnegie Municipal Library is not the only public library in Reims. Seven libraries are located throughout the city: three are a multimedia library, three are libraries, and the final, the Carnegie Municipal Library, is for the moment dedicated to heritage conservation and to research.