At the end of a vast classification programme, orchestrated since January 2019, the bank’s historical collections were transferred from their Ile-de-France site in Combs-la-Ville to the Breton site in Dinan (France). Back to an impressive archival and logistical project.
The Group’s historical collections, from one place of memory to another
Moving the entire collection from one site to another is one of the challenges that archivists face during their careers. This is the challenge taken up by the Group’s Archives & History team. This transfer is also a history of places of memory in every sense of the word: places responsible for preserving memory and places that carry a history.
Since 2011, BNP Paribas’ archive and collection of historical objects have been housed in an archive repository in Combs-la-Ville (France). This former site of the Lalique Crystal had been reconverted in 1982 by a former ancestor of the bank, the Compagnie Bancaire, and specially designed for the conservation of intermediate archives*, notably those of Cetelem, the consumer credit division. However, this 12,000 m2 property complex will soon be sold as part of the Group’s property policy. For the new site, the bank’s vast premises in Dinan, Brittany, was chosen. Located on the historic site of La Conninais, which has been used to hold the bank’s customer securities since 1938.
It was indeed at this time that the Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie, a BNP forerunner, acquired the manor house and the property of the Conninais, in the context of the international tensions that preceded the Second World War. The government then encouraged banks to ensure the safekeeping of their clients’ securities far from urban centres and more vulnerable borders, in a region that was imagined to be safe from invasion. This is how the history of the Dinan Securities repository began, which took on its final form in 1948 with the completion of the conservation building near the castle.
Today, the Conninais centre still houses the administrative units for the Securities Custody working for the French branches network. With the dematerialisation of securities that came into force in 1984, the custody activity was gradually reduced, freeing up premises, particularly vaults. These premises offer ideal conditions in terms of security, custody standards and space layout.
The transfer and relocation of the archives and objects to their new setting, a complex project.
Before embarking on the logistics phase of the project, the Archives & History teams sorted, arranged or re-arranged 3.5 linear kilometres of archives that represented the Group’s heritage collection. This long-term operation made it possible to assess the quantity of resources to be moved and relocated, i.e. 2.2 linear kilometres of archives, to which were added 300 linear metres of archives collected over time within the various BNP Paribas entities.
Then, the transfer of the collections was orchestrated in 3 waves, in parallel with work to fit out the shelving rooms and sorting areas at La Conninais.
In Dinan, the conservation areas housing the historical archives occupy a large room formerly dedicated to the processing of securities accounting and nine vaults in a row equipped with shelving. A room equipped for registers and posters, arranging and meeting rooms complete this installation.
The premises are laid out to enable members of the Archives & History team or researchers to consult this precious heritage. The documents can also be consulted in Paris thanks to regular shuttles.
Visit the conservation rooms of BNP Paribas Historical Archives
Shelving fitted out in a former vault room at La Conninais, 2020 - © BNP Paribas Historical Archives
A visitable reserve of objects
A vast space has also been set up to house the collection of more than a thousand objects bearing witness to the bank’s history, from the imposing cheque sorter to all generations of calculating machines and numerous promotional items. This space is laid out according to the principle of a visitable storeroom, which allows both optimal storage of the objects and a presentation allowing for visits.
Behind the scenes of the BNP Paribas collection of historical objects
Vistable storeroom of historical objects, View on loan drawing wheels- © BNP Paribas Historical Archives
Accounting machines and typewriters sulting from the bank's forerunners activities, © BNP Paribas Historical Archives
If you enjoyed reading this news about the move of BNP Paribas historical collections to the La Conninais Domaine, you may also like to discover why the securities depository of the bank was settled at this place.