Just writing about it is a challenge because of the diversity and scale of the achievements. This exhibition “Rainier III The Prince Builder, An ambition for Monaco” would be an over-reaching work of fiction if it were not in fact real. It’s an opportunity to see the whole transformation of a city-state, and the entire Principality in just one generation, one life, one grand vision.
Over his 56-year reign, (just half a century) HSH Prince Rainier III profoundly shaped the Principality into the modern Monaco that we now know, rightly earning the nickname ‘the Builder Prince’ showing it is actually possible to be the Grand Architect of a country and extend its territory, including Le Portier (1958-1961), the extensions of Larvotto (1961-1968), Sporting and of course Fontvieille, from 1966 to 1973, together with the type of large model with which the Prince loved to check his vision.
In line with the centenary celebrations of the birth of the Sovereign, this exhibition features models, plans, photographs and more that have never been shown before. Its doors have just opened shining a light on how much the former Prince permanently transformed the face of his state.
The title “Builder Prince”might give you the impression he just shaped the physical architecture of Monaco, including the Metropole Centre and the new buildings of the CHPG and the Cardio-Thoracic Center, the new Louis-II stadium, nautical stadium, Centenary hall eventually replaced by the Grimaldi Forum, Auditorium etc. To that extent it is almost a misnomer because the transformation was so much greater.
From internal developments to all-important international relations, Rainier was the Prince for the job of creating lasting economic prosperity. Prosperity with a concern for the environment shown in his exchanges with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, then president of the WWF on the protection of whales.
Booming Economic Legacy
Through developing the hospitality and tourism industries, he also developed the property market, and the favourable economic climate that followed. In terms of urban planning, Rainier increased the size of his country by a fifth, by developing out into the sea in the sixties.
Grand International Reach
Beyond the Principality’s borders, Rainier was committed to increasing Monaco’s recognition in large international organisations. Consequently, Monaco became a member of UNESCO in 1949, a member of the UN in 1993 and finally a member of the Council of Europe in 2004, all while he redefined relations with France.
To that extent Prince Rainier III was part of both historical continuity but indeed of non-stop innovation, even showing himself to be resolutely revolutionary in his urban planning approach.
How to define this singular ambition: “to guarantee the prosperity and well-being of the Monegasques to whom he was united by a bond of affection as much as a constitutional oath,” reads the centenary website.
Organised by the Department of Cultural Affairs, the exhibition is being held in the Quai Antoine 1er Exhibition Hall, and will run until the end of the year-long centenary celebrations on December 31st.
The curation of this retrospective exhibition was entrusted to Stéphane Bern, and to Christian Curau, architect-curator of the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.
You’ll see among so many other things including letters over time, a gallery of portraits and also going back to the voluntary enlistment of the Hereditary Prince in the French army. Don’t miss the series of photos showing Monaco in the middle of the 20th century before the accession of Prince Rainier III and his marriage to Grace Kelly.
So many passions
And never forget Prince Rainier’s many passions be it sailing, automobiles, ironwork, music, sculpture and sports… but also his love for animals and the circus.