Since opening its doors in 2000, the Grimaldi Forum has made the safety of its visitors, its buildings and the masterpieces on display an absolute priority.

The Grimaldi Forum in Monaco (GFM) stands as a prominent hub for conferences, conventions and cultural events within the sovereign city-state of Monaco. This contemporary architectural masterpiece features a striking glass and steel facade and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea.

The multi-purpose venue offers a wide range of facilities, including exhibition halls, conference rooms, auditoriums and theaters. It is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to accommodate more than 100 different events a year, ranging from large-scale conferences and trade shows to world-class art exhibitions and performances that attract more than 250,000 visitors a year.

During the summer of 2023, the Grimaldi Forum held the world-acclaimed “Monet in Full Light” exhibition, a comprehensive showcase of Claude Monet’s artistic journey during his visits to the Riviera. With nearly 100 paintings, including rare masterpieces and a previously unseen work, the exhibition provided visitors with a unique perspective on one of the world’s most renowned artists and his profound exploration of light and atmosphere in his works. The Monet exhibition welcomed 120,000 visitors in two months.

“With some of the largest museums in the world among our lenders, as well as live performances, international conferences and exhibitions, we aim to create a flawless and safe experience in a beautiful environment. Our reputation and that of the Principality depend on it,” said Sylvie Biancheri, Executive Director of the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.

Security control room

Security challenges at the Grimaldi Forum

Since opening its doors in 2000, the Grimaldi Forum has made the safety of its visitors, its buildings and the masterpieces on display an absolute priority.

“Since its creation in 2000, The Grimaldi Forum Monaco (GFM) has made every effort to ensure the safety of visitors and an optimal level of responsiveness,” says Philippe Martin, Director of Safety, Fire and Risk Prevention at the Grimaldi Forum Monaco. “GFM is in permanent contact with the Monegasque Authorities, and it is also a signatory of two charters of the Monaco Safe City plan. Among the staff of the Grimaldi Forum Monaco — 140 people — the Safety, Fire and Risk Prevention Department (SSI) has 28 people on permanent contracts.”

In preparation for the Monet exhibit, which brought in a substantial uptick in visitors to the art museum, SSI conducted regular rounds of the building and leveraged more than 370 HD surveillance cameras (including thermal, anti-intrusion infrared barrier, etc.) to maintain visibility throughout the facility.

“Monet is particularly popular, and the current trend of vandalism of works has pushed us to adapt our operating procedures and to use software that is both functional and optimized. We particularly worked on the surveillance of works of art with the Monaco Sureté Publique, evacuation exercises and the safeguarding plan for the works in close collaboration with the Sapeurs-Pompiers, the Monaco fire brigade,” Martin says.

In addition to security staff efforts, the Grimaldi Forum decided to revamp its security infrastructure, looking for technology that could be used as more than just a tool to respond to crime and keep assets and people safe. They needed to put in place a robust security system that would not compromise the important aesthetics of the venue and also play a key role in supporting its organizational processes to ensure a smooth and safe visitor experience.

“We resumed our search for a new security infrastructure when the Forum re-opened its doors to the public after a shutdown period due to COVID-19,” says Martin. “We were looking for a solution that would help us manage the number and flow of visitors while ensuring the security of the premises. At the time, we were also planning for the much-anticipated Monet exhibition, so we wanted to find the best possible technology to protect these unique masterpieces without interfering with the visitor experience or compromising with the venue’s aesthetic values.”

The security solution

 After a thorough evaluation, Martin and his team chose to work with Monaco-based system integrator MES I2S Security to install over 100 i-PRO cameras, including fisheye and multi-sensors with advanced artificial intelligence (AI)-based analytics.

With some of the largest museums in the world among our lenders, as well as live performances, international conferences and exhibitions, we aim to create a flawless and safe experience in a beautiful environment.”
Sylvie Biancheri, Executive Director of the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco

Managing occupancy and visitor flow

 With a surge in visitation during the Monet exhibit, GFM security needed visibility into as much of their facility as possible. Because fisheye cameras offered a wide field of view, they were strategically placed at each of the building’s entrances and at major axes to maximize their field of view. The i-PRO network cameras use an AI engine to detect congestion, providing data that can be used to direct visitor traffic flow in advance or help staff work more efficiently.

“In the re-opening days after the pandemic, we had to limit the number of people who could be in the facility at any given time,” Martin says. “The i-PRO cameras allowed us to set up zones and limits and count the number of people moving in a specified direction or crossed a specified threshold.”

Using the area counting feature, GFM security is able to monitor the number of people in a set area via the cameras and help manage the flow of visitors and ensure that queues are not forming. Additionally, the heat map tool provides statistical information about traffic flow and keeps counts for people passing through and loitering in the area.

Protecting valuable works of art

 The Grimaldi Forum also implemented i-PRO’s Scene Change Detection, an AI-based analytic application that automatically sends an alert to security and operations teams in the video management system (VMS) when anomalies occur within the camera’s field of view.

At the Grimaldi Forum, the Scene Change Detection app is operated simultaneously with other apps such as AI Video Motion Detection (VMD) of objects, allowing the security team to conduct multiple detections with one camera. The AI VMD can send security guards an alarm when an intruder enters a specified area or if that person loiters in an area where they are not supposed to be. It can also trigger an alarm if a specific threshold is crossed. AI-based object detection minimizes false alarms due to changes of light or passing shadows.

Real-time, proactive monitoring

 The Grimaldi Forum security team embodies a proactive security strategy while protecting the assets, facilities and visitors to the Forum. When an incident does occur, the team can use their VMS to conduct real-time searches during an incident or deep forensic analysis post-event via the i-PRO Active Guard plug-in. With Active Guard, security operators at GFM no longer have to spend time looking at multiple screens for persons of interest or watch hours of recorded video to search for important events. Operators can register specific characteristics in their watch lists (for instance “male wearing a red shirt and blue pants”), and the VMS will send them a real-time alarm whenever a match is identified.

Protecting valuable works of art takes the best in technology. Multi-sensor cameras allow the Grimaldi Forum security teams to monitor the activity across a large room while also enabling them to focus with great precision on a precise area of interest, such as individual paintings.

“If it wasn’t for the wide range of coverage offered by i-PRO’s multi-sensor cameras, we would have had to add another 77 cameras,” said Martin.

Because they are able to be placed discreetly in the ceiling, they do not interfere with the design and aesthetics of the room, nor do they intrude on the visitor experience.

i-PRO’s multi-sensor cameras

Building cultural institution security to last

 The Grimaldi Forum Monaco has implemented advanced security technology to enhance visitor safety, protect valuable artworks, and ensure a seamless and secure experience during high-profile events like the Monet exhibition.

On the horizon, GFM plans to expand their facility by an additional 6,000 square meters in 2025. The Grimaldi Forum security leadership has worked in close contact with the project manager to ensure security is embedded in the new building expansion.

“My main advice [to security leaders securing expansions] would be to clearly outline these needs in advance and identify the technologies necessary to meet them. We actively participated in drawing up the plans and still guide the development at every stage of construction today. At the same time, some of our spaces are used as a test platform, thus projecting us into the future of our activity,” says Martin.

The Monet exhibit is now over, but the infrastructure that the GFM security team has put in place is well poised to handle a wide variety of upcoming events and ready to support the Forum’s ambitious expansion plans in the years to come.