The Untergunther is a French team whose activity is to
restore the invisible parts of the heritage in total clandestinity.
In November 2005, the Untergunther infiltrated the Pantheon of Paris
and, with the help of the professional clockmaker Jean-Baptiste Viot, started
to restore the abandoned monumental 1850 Wagner clock before its
irreversible state of defacement.
Once this restoration achieved, in October 2006, the Untergunther
decided to meet Bernard Jeannot, the administrator of the
Pantheon, in order to show him this work and to connect the clock to
After an enthusiastic welcome, Mister Jeannot suddenly changed his mind
and decided to keep the silence on this clandestine restoration,
frightened that this fantastic action was the proof of the incapacity
of the French National Heritage administration, Monum, to preserve the
heritage it is in charge of.
On the night of the 24th december 2006, the Untergunther came back to
the Pantheon and fixed the bells to the clock which just rang for
Christmas and a few days after because Mister Jeannot decided that this
result of a clandestine restoration of an abandoned part of the French
heritage was intolerable and had to stop.
Bernard Jeannot can be the administrator of the Pantheon but he does
not seem to care about heritage.
No doubt that a real guerilla is declared between him, its inefficient
administration and the UnterGunther.
This amazing restoration is the end of an adventure began with the
clandestine transformation of a neglected part of the Pantheon as a
design living room with wood furniture built onsite, electricity, and a
computer connected to internet called the UGWK, for "Unter und Gunther
Winter Kneipe", which could be translated as the Unter and Gunther
Winter Boozer. A very pleasant workshop which gave also nightmares to
Mister Jeannot and its so called Administration.
On the morning of friday November 23 2007, four members of the
Untergunther appeared before the Paris Court of Justice, charged not of
illegal intrusion and occupation of a national monument or use of false
keys but for having detroyed a keeper of a lock located on one of the
outside grids of the Pantheon.
This charge (qualified as "stupid" by Public Prosecutor Anne Benejean)
being not provable, the indictment was the total release of the
UnterGunther members while Eric Gomez, lawyer for Monum, asked 48300
euros in compensation.
After twenty minutes of deliberation, Judge Eric Meunier confirmed the
Pascal Monnet, the new Administrator of the Pantheon after the
retirement of the efficient Bernard Jeannot, and Ghislaine Santoni, in
charge of the security of the building, left the Court of Justice with
a very sad face and the UnterGunther went to their new clandestine
workshop to have a drink.
Interviewed by French newspaper Le Monde, Monum acknowledged the
quality of this restoration.
One can now wonder why the administration does not decide to wind up
the clock. It is impossible to think that for all these administrators
in charge of the French Heritage a monument is something stated in the
time and can not be changed, and especially not be upgraded by a
Choice of articles published in English and French :
Le Parisien (Oct. 14, 2006) : Le
Panthéon habité en secret
Le Figaro (Aug. 31, 2007) : Dans
le monde secret des explorateurs urbains
The Times (Sep. 29, 2007) : Underground
'terrorists' with a mission to save city's neglected heritage
Le Monde (Nov. 25, 2007) : Aux
intrus, la patrie... très énervée
The Guardian (Nov. 26, 2007) : Undercover
restorers fix Paris landmark's clock
Wired (January 20, 2012) : The
New French Hacker-Artist Underground
Science & Vie Junior (#288, August 2013) : Les
fantômes du Panthéon
The 150 year old Wagner
clock and the Untergunther's clockmaker Jean-Baptiste Viot © TF1
An Untergunther repairing
the old Wagner clock mecanism © UX
Inside the Wagner clock -
Before and after the Untergunther restoration © TF1
The UGWK designed and
built by the Untergunther in a neglected part of the Pantheon © UX
Jean-Baptiste Viot ©
Pantheon, user's guide.
Film by Lazar Kunstmann.
More than 25 years of urban experiment in Paris.