Don’t miss these fantastic exhibitions in Monaco this summer

Publication date: 27/07/2023
Summer: the cicadas are singing, the sun is shining, and there’s a gentle sea breeze. But for many, the holidays are also the perfect time to visit a museum or take in an exhibition. Here are just a few of the most essential ones the Principality has to offer.

In Monaco, 2023 is a year of commemorations marking the centenary of Prince Rainier III, who would have been 100 years old on 31 May.
Many special events are being held as part of the celebrations, including exhibitions looking at the life of the Prince, who reigned from 1949 to 2004, and featuring previously unseen photographs. Here are three not-to-be-missed exhibitions:

“The Prince at Home” at the State Apartments of the Prince’s Palace, from 31 May to 20 August

The Prince truly was “at home” at the Prince’s Palace, having been the first Sovereign to be born there since Honoré IV in 1758. This exhibition looks back at his life in this place of power, from three different perspectives: the Sovereign performing his stately duties, the private man as shown in photographs taken with his family, and key moments of his reign, from his apprenticeship to the end of the Second World War, or the proclamation of a new constitution.

“The Builder Prince, an Ambition for Monaco” at the exhibition space on Quai Antoine Ier, from 20 July to 31 December

Throughout his reign, Prince Rainier III worked tirelessly to bring about lasting change in the Principality. A new constitution, a new relationship with France, a new international outlook, new world-class events... Using previously unseen materials including models, plans, photographs, and documents, this exhibition illustrates the Prince’s unique approach, driven by his ambitious aim of guaranteeing prosperity and well-being for his people.

“The Prince and his Animals” at the Zoological Gardens, from 31 May to 31 December

The Principality has a zoo overlooking the port of Fontvieille, perched on the southern flank of the Rock below the Prince’s Palace. Founded in 1954 by Prince Rainier II himself, the Zoological Gardens house some three hundred animals of around sixty different species. Monaco’s zoo is unusual in that it provides a home to animals that have been abandoned or seized by customs, or exchanged with other zoos. Until the end of the year, the Zoological Gardens are displaying previously unseen archive images of the Prince, a great animal lover.

The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco is also a hub of contemporary culture with various temporary exhibitions staged at two outstanding venues: Villa Sauber with its Belle Epoque architecture, and Villa Paloma, a stately home with unrivalled views of the Principality.

“Santo Sospir” at the Villa Sauber from 13 June to 15 October

This exhibition is named after the villa in Cap Ferrat where the multi-faceted artist Jean Cocteau lived for a decade in the mid-20th century, and whose walls became a veritable canvas for him. Before it closed for restoration work in 2018, photographer Mauro Restiffe spent a few days there and produced a series of images.

“George Condo – Humanoids” from 31 March to 1 October

Closely associated with a number of renowned artists such as Keith Haring or Jean-Michel Basquiat, George Condo, who also worked for Andy Warhol’s factory, loves to mix up different styles in his works featuring unique characters. Through six chapters, the exhibition traces the continuity of a blossoming oeuvre that began in the early 1980s.  Visitors gain an insight into the artist’s vision, which draws on both classical tradition and pop culture in an attempt to “show the truth of the human being”. The Principality’s gaze has always been turned toward the sea, all the more so since the reigns of Prince Albert II and his great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert I. With the main goal of reconciling humanity with the sea, Les Explorations de Monaco is a platform that works to further the Sovereign’s commitment to learning, sustainable management, and protection of our oceans.

“Regards croisés” on the fences of the Saint-Martin Gardens from 29 June to 30 August

In October and November 2022, scientists trabvelled to the Indian Ocean on an epic  two-month voyage to take vital measurements and samples. Their exploration led to an exhibition, told through the eyes of three artists.

“Monet in Full Light” at the Grimaldi Forum from 8 July to 3 September

This major exhibition features around one hundred of the great painter’s canvases, with numerous masterpieces rarely presented together, including one not seen before, and 23 exceptional pieces displayed for the first time close to the locations where they were painted. From Bordighera in Italy to Antibes in France via Monte-Carlo, Claude Monet was inspired by the Mediterranean coast. It was a prolific period in the painter’s life which is showcased here, between canvases from his younger days in Normandy and the famous Giverny paintings.

Photo credits: ©La Direction du Tourisme et des Congrès de Monaco / Frédéric Nebinger / Délia Kriel / Georges Lukomski - Archives du Palais Princier / Andrea Rossetti / Nicolas Mathys / Les Explorations de Monaco