La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog
Paris, Visiting France

La Grande Galerie de l’Evolution

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

It’s been months since our visit in February to the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution in Paris’ Jardin des Plantes. But as the weather gets colder, and we turn back to the indoors, I wanted to share this jewel box of a museum.

With four floors, there is a lot to see. The first floor is dedicated to species of the sea and the second to those of the land but the top two floors take a more philosophical approach with exhibits on man’s effect on the environment and evolution, and the mechanisms of evolution.

On our visit, we began with the second floor and its signature parade of exotic animals.

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

(Look at that little pudge! It’s always hard to believe how much they change in a few months. Élie was fascinated, especially by the elephants which he loves, but when the automated recording of an elephant trumpeting activated, he clung to his Papa for dear life, despite the volume being well adjusted to the space and not overly loud.)

The second floor opens above to the soaring ceiling, the top two floors being large balconies that run the entire perimeter of the space. You don’t notice it at first, it is so natural seeming, but that ceiling and the walls of the second floor are fitted with lighted panels that gradually change color and intensity to mimic a day on the savanna changing into evening. Sounds of insects and birds float through the space until you suddenly realize that is has become quite quiet and the panels have turned an ominous blue gray. The sound of a sudden downpour and thunderstorm sweeps through the floor as flashes of lightning travel across the ceiling. Then, as suddenly as it arrived, the storm is over and the panels melt into the soft colors of a rainbow after the storm. It is brilliant. And magical. Eventually the panels fade to a quiet night with crickets providing their song only to eventually start again with a dawn breaking and the day beginning. It is a testament to the place that the guards we encountered took great delight in telling us the little details not to be missed, like the one who smiled and told us “A storm is coming but watch the ceiling, there is a rainbow after!” when we noticed the change in atmosphere.

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

Of course, every kind of animal can be find here from the large and impressive to the tiny and delicate. And not just animals, plants are just as important in this story.

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

The backdrop of the exhibits, the building itself, is just as much a reason to visit as what is on display. Built in 1889, the museum was actually closed for years between 1965 and its reopening, relatively recently, in 1994. It has that wonderful, moody mix of its time: the elements of classical architecture refracted through the lens of the industrial revolution and the age of steam.

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

So there you have a peek into this treasure of Paris. It’s a wonderful place to visit and wander, and a perfect museum for children, too. Definitely put it on your list for a day indoors and check their website for film showings for both adults and children.

And I had to share these chairs for visitors to rest in because I just loved their design – such a perfect mix of echos of the space’s architecture and a modern sensibility!

La Grande Galerie de l'Evolution, Paris, France - egg & dart blog

La Grande Galerie de l’Évolution

36 rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 70005 Paris

Jardin des Plantes

xo,

A.

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Art, Night Au Musée, Paris

Night at the Louvre – Les Arts de L’Islam

 

Ever since the much anticipated new wing of the Louvre opened, I’ve been excited to see the new space and discover the pieces of the museum’s collection that hadn’t been displayed before. The Islamic and Middle Eastern collections are some of the most inspiring to me for their rich decoration, vibrant colors, and fluid lines. Last Friday, after a fairly hectic week, we meet at the Louvre for a nocturne visit and headed straight for this new wing. Built into a previously unused inner court, the architecture is very modern, in the tradition of the  I.M. Pei glass pyramids, but marries will with the existing structure, not competing with it. So entering the new wing is like stepping through the wardrobe into a completely different world. With 2 1/2 levels of space, there was much too much to see in one evening and it was fairly busy, with everyone interested in the new space.

The pieces on display vary widely, the theme of the collection itself covering a vast geographical and cultural area, and different areas are highlighted by themes such as writing (calligraphy being such an important decorative element in Islamic art), game objects, or tile work. These displays are complemented by touch screens that play fascinating videos in several languages, several 3D models that were created from key pieces for visitors to be able to touch the work with their own hands, and maps that glow from behind, the light moving to show the spread of an empire or culture. It was all very interesting and there is still so much for us to see but we did have just a few critiques: for one, the light is unusually low, even for light sensitive pieces, and the floor, walls, and displays are charcoal making it difficult to read even for R. and I who don’t have trouble reading. Also, almost all texts were presented in three languages but not Arabic. For a country with such a large Arabic population and tourist stream, I feel that it’s a miss not to offer the exhibit information in the major language of the culture whose work is being displayed.

Despite those things, the new wing is a space you should visit if you can. The work is beautiful (the above reproduction mosaic looks so contemporary to me yet it dates to between 705 and 715 A.D.!) and I know we’re both looking forward to going back to see even more. Here is a taste of what you’ll see there:

How was your weekend?

xo,

A.

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Art, Night Au Musée, Paris

Night at the Louvre – Eugène Isabey

Last Friday we made it to the Louvre for the first nocturne in a long time and we took the time to visit a temporary exhibit of work by Eugène Isabey from the Louvre’s collections. This selection of work focused on his sketches of the Normandy and Brittany coasts and rural villages. Most of the work presented was graphite with watercolor and gouache and what mesmerized me were his brush strokes. I’ve always loved pieces that were not so perfected as to hide the hand of the artist and in this exhibit Isabey’s voice rings clear in his frank and sure hand through his paint brush. But I’ll let the works speak for themselves, here is a selection of details (not entire sketches) that I particularly loved for their marks.

(above: oil on canvas)

The light was not helping for the viewing (or photographing) of this last one but I had to include this detail despite the ghosting of the image. Here he has laid down charcoal over graphite and then ‘etched’ the forms from the black. This detail shows two baskets (center, 2/3’s down) laying on the shore at the base of a ship(top left) among the rocks (bottom right). I have to try this technique!

The show runs through the 17th of September and I definitely need to get back at least one more time. If you’re in Paris, try to find the time to go see it!

xo,

A.

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