There are 136 museums in Paris – it is a city steeped in arts and culture. Of course, the first touchpoint for most is the grand and historic Louvre. Once that is done, there remain so many museums to see – depends on your interest and the time available.
During this trip, our daughter introduced us to the mind blowing digital art museum ‘Atelier des Lumières’ or Workshop of Lights.
“Located between Bastille and Nation, in a former foundry in the eleventh arrondissement of Paris, the Atelier des Lumières holds monumental immersive exhibitions. Using 140 video projectors and a spatialised sound system, the highly unique multimedia equipment covers a total surface area of 3,300 m², extending from the floors to the ceilings and over walls up to 10 m high.” That is the brief description of the awesome experience that it offers on https://en.parisinfo.com/.
Its an experience difficult to describe in words – it has to be experienced to be understood. Even the photos and videos shared by me do not capture the feel. When we went in December the exhibition on Dali was on display. It was titled ‘Dali, l’enigme sans fin’.
Our tickets said the show was at 3.30 pm and we reached there by cab to be in time. After checking our ‘passe sanitaire’ and belongings we entered. It is clearly an old industrial building. Inside the dark hall there is lots of space. There is no formal seating. The hall is huge. People sit on the floor, lounge on the built remnants of the foundry, some even lie down to enjoy the show.
The show happens all around you – on the walls, on pillars, is reflected in a pool of water, and in a separate room, even on the roof. The projection of Dali’s life and work in larger than life images floated around us, accompanied by interesting music. There is no time when you are supposed to leave. You can spend as much time discovering the immersive art experience as you want.
Run by ‘Culturespaces’ a museum foundation in France the experience is something unique and enthralling. It is a novel way to enjoy paintings of iconic artists -the perfect marriage between technology and traditional art. It adds dimensions to the originals that are spell binding. It is definitely a must do in Paris!
The other museum we visited was Musee du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac. This latest major museum in Paris opened in 2006. Designed by architect Jean Nouvel, the museum houses a superb collection of indigenous art and other cultural artefacts from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania. The permanent collection has more than 300,000 works, 700,000 photographs, 320,000 documents, 10,000 musical instruments, and 25,000 pieces of textile or clothing. The main collection area displays about 3500 objects, rotating 500 each year.
The building has a long spiral walkway that takes one to the main exhibition area. On display on the floor of the walkway was a moving installation called the ‘River of words’. It was original and evoked a response deep within as one walked up.
When we visited the museum, the main attractions on display were African. There is something poetic, magical and mesmerizing about the way the building is designed. There are curves and bends in the display area that open out into beautiful artifacts. It is aptly called La Riviere.
In the basement of the building a display called ‘Ultime combat’ was on. It showcased the myth and history of traditional combat in Asian cultures. Hanuman and Ravana were also a part of the display. It was of course dominated by Chinese and Japanese martial arts. The exhibition ended with video games and huge installations of robots and Marvel characters. On the day we visited there were many children in this part of the museum.
The museum is located on the banks of the Seine on the quai Branly – hence its name. Both inside and outside it is beautiful and impressive!
The third place my museum friendly daughter took me to was the Musee Picasso in the famous Marais district of Paris. We were taking a walk in this old Jewish quarter and were returning from the Place de Vosages – the oldest planned square in Paris – when we saw the sign pointing to the Picasso museum. We decided to head there.
The Picasso Museum is the French national museum dedicated to the life and work of Pablo Picasso as well as to the artists who were linked to him. The place holds nearly 5000 items including paintings, sculptures, sketches, reels of Picasso’s interviews etc. Many of the items were donated by Picasso’s family after his death, in accordance with the wishes of the artist, who lived in France from 1905 to 1973.
The museum or art gallery as it is also called is housed in the Hotel Sale, and is on three floors. When we visited in January, the Picasso Rodin exhibition was on display. For those who are immersed in art, the exhibition offers a look at the creative linkages between these two colossuses, their commonality and fondness of experimentation with art forms.
For a mere commoner in the nuances of art like me, it offered a chance to see various art works of the two masters, and all the different materials they used in their creative urges. It was also an opportunity to admire the beautifully ornate building that houses the museum. That in itself is a work of art!
Paris is a beautiful enigma – its soul is reflected in its buildings, its mind finds expression in its beautiful boulevards and art, and from every structure its stories whisper to those that tread its paths.
He who contemplates the depths of Paris is seized with vertigo.
Nothing is more fantastic. Nothing is more tragic.
Nothing is more sublime.”
Some photos courtesy Dnyaneshwar Mulay