Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Musee des Arts and Metiers

On Saturday night after the Anatomy museum in the 5th arrondissement, our group headed to the 3rd arrondissement to view a museum that my girlfriend and I had never been to.... the Musee des Arts et Metiers (Arts and Sciences). I'd heard a lot of good things about this museum, but it isn't very easy to get to from my apartment so I kept putting it off.

Once again, we arrived at the museum and there was no line. We went straight to the exhibits. This huge museum is broken down into 8 distinct sections: scientific instruments, materials, construction, communication, energy, mechanical, transports, and the chapel. There is a lot to see and many of the exhibits are interactive which are always fun for the kids.

I think my son liked the scientific instruments because he was able to see some different methods of telling time. He had studied this subject in school last week so it was very timely.

My favorite part of the museum were the maquettes or models displaying the feats of civil engineering. There were models of the construction of rue de Rivoli, the Statue of Liberty and the lifting machine used to transport the Obelisque to Place de la Concorde.

"The model shows the exceptional technique used by Bartholdi in making the statue in the workshops of Gaget, Garthier & Cie. This framework does not directly bear the sheet of spun copper but supports iron strips moulding the contours of the skin, kept in place by copper U-links attached by six rivets."

On my way out I grabbed the brochure on ateliers/workshops they have for children. The workshops sound very interesting. For example, there is a workshop on writing with light and the properties of photographic paper. The normal admission cost is 6,50 euro -- pretty reasonable for this very interesting museum.

When we finally left the museum it was dark and I noticed the beautiful stained glass from the chapel, part of the museum property. According to the museum brochure ...in the nave of the chapel, which was restored in the 19th century, are the objects that made the church a pantheon of techniques: the vapour machine of Scott, a model of the construction of the statue of Liberty by Bartholdi, and the model of the Vulcain motor of the space ship Ariane. Additionally, Foucault's pendulum is located in the choir. Next time I'll have to view the inside of this church!

-- said Auntie M in Paris
12:10 PM



Hi Auntie !

Our English word "gadget" allegedly comes from the engineering company Gaget, Garthier & Cie. The site you linked to explains that "… It would seem that the gadget word comes from the name of Mr Gaget. Indeed it is it that had the idea to create reduced models by the statue so as to to sell them as souvenir." Monsieur Gaget supposedly sold small models of the statue with the name "Gaget" on them while the statue was being assembled.

I've known of this story for years, well B.I. (Before Internet), and repeated it to all who are interested. Other current internet sites assert basically the same thing, while one (someone styling her/himself "The Word Detective") dismisses the story as pure invention, since the actual word "gadget" was apparently used in the Royal Navy (a font of lexicography ! "to pay the devil" and "between the devil and the deep blue sea" spring immediately to mind …), well before the Statue of Liberty.

I've been searching for one of Gaget's original reduced statues for years, both to prove the story indubitably and to have as a personal souvenir. During the US bicentennial, when a lot of memorabilia came out of the woodwork, I was hoping, even expecting, to find one. Rien. Of course, that was B.I. and eBay didn't exist then. (smile).

Thanks for this great post on the CNAM museum !


# posted by L'Amerloque : 1:18 PM  

I have just stumbled across your blog and have decided it is the next best thing to actually being in Paris!

Thank you for this little escape!

# posted by Nic : 2:32 PM  

I have to agree this museum is wonderful.
When My husband & I lived in Paris, we spent a whole day going round this gem, and included the church attached- Foucault's pendulum is there indeed- it's incredible- though I believe there is also one in the Pantheon, though we never could afford to visit.

# posted by Joy : 4:09 PM  

Sorry- meant to add- did you try the Galerie D'evolution yet?
By the Jardin des Plantes- it is exquisite- the whole building is wonderful.

# posted by Joy : 4:11 PM  

Auntie M,

Did you send your kids to school on Monday? Thought you might write about the protests in Paris

# posted by Anonymous : 4:32 PM  

L'A, I usually learn something from your comments and today was no different. Thanks!
Nicole, What a nice thing to say!
Joy, I have seen the pendulum in the Pantheon. It's very impressive. We did take the kids to the Evolution gallery last year. They really enjoyed the visit.
A, Yes I did send the kids to school. Our school put up a notice that a month ago saying, basically, SHOW UP. My daughter's teacher didn't 'show up' until the afternoon. My son's teacher 'showed up' but didn't teach anything. He watched videos and played games all day. I think one newspaper said "No holiday, No Work!" It was a weird day here in Paris.

# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 6:18 PM  

Wow Auntie, your kiddies are real troopers - two museums in one day, if I understood correctly!

Have you thought of cloning them?

# posted by Sammy : 6:40 PM  

Sammy, You should meet them first before you ask that question! It did help that they had friends along for the evening.

# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 7:30 PM  

I've written about museums today too, but not nearly as well as you did! I feel as though I've been there - and I do want to see it sometime.

# posted by kenju : 7:47 PM  

I grew up in New York, went into the city countless times, and yet I never saw the Statue of Liberty! I have a feeling I'll probably see the miniature one in Paris first.

I can't believe I've never been in a real museum before in my life. I don't think the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa really counts. The closest I got to a historical museum was the Cold Spring Harbor Museum in Long Island, where I went in fourth grade on a field trip... (Incidentally they also went to NYC the end of the year and got to go to the Statue of Liberty... but I moved already!)

You know the French institution, where they have all the original artifacts upon which the metric system is based? Is that open to the public and have you ever visited that?

# posted by Joe : 8:05 PM  

hi Auntie M, it's official, i'm totally depressed. i don't know how you do it, but living in Paris is such an extraordinary adventure for you while others like me just struggle with dog poop, crazy drivers not to mention the retarded pedestrians. thank you for your great posts. they are truly inspiring.

# posted by irene : 9:49 PM  

Thank you for taking me along with you. ;) It sounds like fun! Oh I wish I had that first-hand access to all that history!

# posted by Christine : 9:59 PM  

Hmm, it's just dawned on me that you've got to be a very curious type of person - you find out so much about the museums and I bet that what we read is not all that you know! Do you ask many, many questions while at the museums?

When we return to Paris we will be very prepared - thanks to you! Terry in SF

# posted by Anonymous : 11:48 PM  

I love all the details you give. It feels as if I am walking through the museum with you. I so want to come to Paris and see all these sights first hand. Some day...

# posted by mommy d : 3:40 AM  

Auntie, All these museum visits are indeed very interesting but what we really want to know is: What happened to your son's TOOTH #4 ??? Is it still wiggling in his mouth?

Frania W.

# posted by Frania W. : 4:13 AM  

Excuse me for the lateness of this comment but I just discovered your DELIGHTFUL blog and now will spend happy times reading new posts and catching up on the archive! I'm (yet another) person who loves Paris, of course. Last fall, I attended an academic conference at the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers. Unfortunately, I never had time to see the Musee des Arts et Metiers -- when it was open, I was in conference sessions! Drat. But, your blog post is so interesting and renews my commitment to see it next time that I am in Paris. I also loved your comment (in one of your other posts) about the fact that posting photos on your blog has encouraged you to "see" things differently. I find that to be SO true in my own blogging. Creativity creates creativity, no? A bientot et bonne journee! The Ingredient Sleuth

# posted by Ingredient Sleuth (Marilyn) : 12:57 AM  

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