Restoration project 2024

With the replacement of the so-called “optical apparatus”, the viewing platform and the lighting system, the Bourbaki Panorama Lucerne Foundation has just realised the largest restoration project since the total renovation of the circular painting and panorama building almost 30 years ago at the beginning of 2024. Most of the restoration work were carried out by industrial rope access technicians to protect the painting. For logistical and safety reasons, the museum was closed  for six weeks, from 8 January to 16 February. The renovation was the Foundation’s response to visible signs of wear and age on individual components, which stood in drastic contrast to the high quality of the painting.

Replacement of optical apparatus

Panoramas owe their impressive overall effect to an ingenious architectural construction made of textile components, namely the “Optical Apparatus”, consisting of a baldachin, a velum and solar sails. The baldachin is an expansive “textile canopy” visible from the platform. Above it is the velum, a fabric cylinder. Several stretched pieces of fabric, the so-called solar sails, extend vertically from the velum. While the baldachin conceals the upper edge of the picture, making it appear infinite, the velum and the solar sails reflect the light entering through the glass panes in the dome of the panorama and prevent it from shining directly onto the canvas. This ensures a balanced illumination of the entire panorama room.

The replacement of the baldachin is the most extensive part of the current refurbishment project. In total, around 1600 square metres of textile with a total weight of 200 kilograms will be replaced.


  • The optical apparatus is an ingenious architectural construction made of textile. It consists of a baldachin, velum and solar sails.
  • The baldachin conceals the upper edge of the picture and makes it appear infinite.
  • The velum and the solar sails reflect the incident light, preventing it from shining directly onto the light-sensitive canvas.
  • A total of 1600 square metres of textile with a total weight of 200 kilograms will be re-stretched.

Need for renovation

  • Replacement required due to age and damage
  • Visible water stains on baldachin
  • Unsightly textile overlap at the edges due to age-related fatigue


  • Specific colour selection of the baldachin for optimum staging of the round picture
  • Enhancement of the overall aesthetic effect by repairing visible damage

Replacement of lighting systems

The panorama thrives on light: in addition to the angle of incidence of daylight through the roof and the specific reflective architecture (see “Optical Apparatus”), an artificial lighting system also ensures the constant brilliance of the light-sensitive oil painting in the Bourbaki Panorama.

Depending on the time of year, the lighting is active for an average of 2 to 5 hours a day at different intensities. Despite the technical version and careful handling, the lighting system of the European cultural monument is not immune to age: the obsolescence of the current construction of 64 metal halide lamps of 400 watts with outdated ballasts not only challenges the quality of the viewing experience, it also puts the sustainability of the museum infrastructure to the test.


  • The panorama is primarily illuminated by daylight coming in from the roof.
  • An artificial lighting system guarantees optimum illumination in unfavourable natural light conditions.
  • The current construction can no longer be replaced.

Need for renovation

  • Halogen light fittings with outdated ballasts can no longer be replaced
  • Cumbersome mounting technology
  • Little design variation, no dimming possible


  • Energy efficiency thanks to the latest LED technology
  • Automated light control with “dimmer” for simplified handling and control
  • Reduced harmful spectral component in the UV range
  • LED lights without harmful spectral components in the UV and IR range

Restoration of viewing platform

The historic viewing platform is important for the authentic overall experience of the unique Bourbaki Panorama cultural monument. It offers the public space to engage with the circular painting – to look, immerse themselves, ponder, meditate, discuss ...

Both the leather-covered benches and the decorated and painted metal railings on the viewing platform date from 1889, the year the panorama was built. The original pieces are now listed buildings. Daily use since the reopening of the museum almost 30 years ago has left traces of wear and tear. As a result, they form a sometimes drastic contrast to the high quality of the artwork.

In addition to its restoration, the platform is also being partially renewed: both the central loudspeaker system integrated into the baldachin and the chandelier for illuminating the platform have already exceeded their service life. They are also technically outdated.


  • The historic viewing platform guarantees an authentic overall experience of this unique cultural monument.
  • The now listed leather-covered benches and the painted railings are original pieces from the year of construction, 1889.

Renovation need

  • Restoration of railings (colour application) and benches (renewal of seat upholstery and leather cover / addition of paint and varnish to the wood)
  • Replacement of the overhauled central loudspeaker system and the chandelier on the platform
  • Cleaning and refreshing the parquet flooring


  • The restoration and renovation will aestheticise the overall experience of the historical medium.
  • The chandelier above the viewing platform will be fitted with a dimmable lighting control system.