Three months after the reopening of the Richelieu site, the Bibliothèque nationale de France is calling for 200,000 euros in donations from the general public to acquire a collection classified as a “work of major heritage interest” by composer Jacques Offenbach (1819 – 1880). This Offenbach collection proposed for acquisition is one of the four ensembles formed at the time of the composer’s succession, which have been kept in its entirety.
What is this fund made up of archival?
Exceptionally discovered in a bourgeois house in the suburbs of Paris and coming from the heirs of Jacqueline Offenbach (1858-1936) - younger daughter of Jacques Offenbach - the archive consists of 279 elements, mostly handwritten scores, but also vocal and instrumental works, handwritten booklets, photographs and unpublished personal documents.
The acquisition of this set would notably enable the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) to bring together scores of the four acts of the Tales of Hoffman, the composer’s last masterpiece (1880). The BnF maintains the fourth act in its collections, while the first three acts are part of the collection that the Library wishes to acquire.
If the operation is successful, the BnF would gather the largest collection in the world on Offenbach. The collection would join the Department of Music, created in 1942, whose collections are divided between two sites:
- the site Richelieu (where are preserved the musical collections formed since the beginning of the eighteenth century and the heritage collection of the library of the Conservatory)
- the website Opera Library and Museum (Palais Garnier) – where the artistic heritage of the Paris Opera and the Opéra-Comique is preserved.
How stupidtcontribute to the BnF’s acquisition of the Offenbach Fund?
In order to contribute to the acquisition of the Offenbach archive, which is set at €1.69 million, the BnF hopes to raise €200,000 from private donors and the rest with corporate sponsors.
Companies have the opportunity to contribute to the acquisition by donation tax-exempt but also via the national treasures system The Offenbach Fund is presenting a major interest in national heritage.
The BnF and the disfigurednat
The oldest cultural institution in France has established strong ties with individuals, companies and organizations willing to commit to the acquisition, restoration and digitization of works, the dissemination of collections through exhibitions, accessibility to new audiences, renovation of spaces.
In 2000, the National Library of France created the circle of the BnF, gathering bibliophiles who contribute to the enrichment of the Library’s collections, notably through funds raised at a gala.
More recently, the Cercle Richelieu was formed to support the restoration of the Richelieu site, the historic birthplace of the BnF.
Reopened last September after twelve years of work, the Oval Room, the Louis XV Room and the Mazarin Gallery of the Richelieu site have benefited from the financial support of some 20 sponsoring organisations (companies, foundations, institutions) and more than 3,300 individual donors.
The renovation of Site Richelieu
The words of Kara Lennon Casanova
Director of Sponsorship at the BnF, Director of the Endowment Fund
These six years of campaigning have generated a great deal of enthusiasm, encouragement and wonder at an institution that reflects human thought and creativity. The patrons gathered within the Richelieu Circle have contributed passionately to this ambitious project, each bringing one stone to the building. In September 2021, they received the Grand Patron of Culture award from the Minister of Culture in recognition of their collective commitment to preserving and transmitting this universal heritage.
The exhibition of collections several millennia within a museum has been very mobilizing for French and international patrons. More than 900 exceptional works are now displayed in spectacular rooms and galleries restored thanks to the mobilization of important European foundations and Japanese companies. In France, probably because of the image of Richelieu – that of a dark and cold place – many thought the site closed since the construction of the François-Mitterrand library. At the beginning of the renovation work, it took a large projection capacity to imagine what the historic site of the BnF would become. The desire to open Richelieu, to give it its rightful place in the heart of Paris, to make it accessible to all, to transmit this exceptional heritage, was a determining factor for French patrons.
With its collections and history, prestige and fame, Richelieu symbolizes something far beyond our borders. The United States has a particular sensitivity for libraries: at the end of its mandate, each president builds a library; the industrialist Andrew Carnegie financed at the end of the 19th century the construction of more than 2,500 libraries around the world, of which 1,600 in the United States. The project ofopening of Richelieu to all and the transformation of the Ovale room into a public reading room has been very well received by many American patrons and foundations.”