The French National Library (Bibliotheque Nationale de France) is a major research and conservation library that dates back to the Middle Ages. The library’s collections contain 14 million books and printed documents, and nearly 150,000 documents are added to the collections every year. The library is comprised of four main buildings: Site François-Mitterrand, the center for digital projects and collections; Site Richelieu-Louvois, which houses the departments of manuscripts, prints, cartography, music, theater, coins and medals; Site de L’Arsenal, containing the library of the French arsenal (more than a million books are in this building alone); and the Bibliothèque – Musée de l’Opéra, with collections related to the National Opera of Paris and the Comic Opera Theater.
The library hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year including exhibitions, lectures, symposiums, and concerts. Guided tours of each of the buildings offer a glimpse into the library’s history and the building’s architecture (the François-Mitterrand Library), the museum of coins and medals (Richelieu Library), and the old military arsenal (Arsenal Library).
Bring a valid ID for access to the library’s reading rooms and exhibitions. Large bags and suitcases are not allowed in the library. The library’s virtual, rotating, and permanent exhibitions range in price from 7 – 14 Euros. Permanent exhibitions include: Globes of Louis XIV; Discovering the Bibliotheque Nationale de France’s Garden; the Museum of Coins, Medals, and Antiques. Rotating exhibitions have included Anselm Kiefer and the Alchemy of Books; Prints from Goya to Redon; and French Prints in the Age of Louis XIV.