Conservator, Lynda Zycherman: This was the second subway created in the world. The first was the one in London. It was Guimard’s intention to advertise the subway publicly. He placed his Metro signs right in the middle of the plaza or on the sidewalk where it was visible by anyone would come to see it—as opposed to the London subway where the entrances are more subtly hidden into a building and not in a public plaza.
His other innovation was to use modular systems to be able to create over a hundred gates in Paris. They are made of cast iron but they are painted to look as if they’re bronze. That’s why they’re green. The word Metropolitain is lava stone that has been ground up and re-fired to make a very impervious ceramic.
It was made to be outside. But it is over a hundred years old and it was pretty seriously rusted because the paint had failed over and over, from the time it was erected in Paris, until the French took it down in 1950-something. The restoration job involved not only removing the old paint, removing the rust, compensating or making good any losses in the surface, we also recast one or two small elements that had been missing. The paint is a complete new paint job.