Monday, November 3, 2008

Catching up

en français après le trait ----------
I keep putting writing my blog off -- just like I used to put off writing letters, so the objective of having this blog reflect my letter writing of the past is acheived. I guess I had imagined I'd do a better job of it.
Paul and I went to the Quai Branly museum, which is also known as the Musée des Arts Primaires, or the Musée des civilisations de l'océanie, l'asie, l'afrique et des amériques. It's what used to be called primative art, except that it finally dawned on the specialists that it was not so primative.
This is the newest museum, built between the Eiffel Tower and the Pont d'Alma. It has some greenery growing on the facade and there's a nice garden to walk through. It doesn't take up all of the site it was built on, so the buildings on the street behind it still benefit from the light and the view. I remember the buildings that used to be there that blocked out everything. It's very near the American library, so I guess I'll be going back some time soon.
From the outside, it's very modern and you'd expect it to be well organized and user-friendly inside. You'd expect it, but we were somewhat disappointed. It starts out well enough with the ticket booths outside, well away from the entrance to the museum. The security gate at the entrance is no different from what you find at other museums. Then, you find yourself in a vast empty lobby. The permanent exhibit is up a ramp. It's a long ramp and it's too steep for wheelchairs. That doesn't make it easy for people having any trouble walking. There's no place to stop; there's nothing to see that might give you an excuse to be slow. We didn't have any trouble, but we weren't the oldest people visiting on this weekday. I didn't see signs leading to an elevator in the lobby.
At the top of the ramp you are in the center of the museum. It's not too clear what you are expected to do first. We went straight into the "Océanie" section. When I was in school, we learned that Australia was a continent and I don't think we ever classified all those Pacific islands. In France, Océanie includes Australia, New Zealand, New Calidonia, Polynesia, and the other South Pacific islands. The exhibit is not based on geography, but on culture, so you're not looking at everything from this island, then that island, but rather everything concerning this kind of rite or occupation, then another. It's interesting. But I thought of Nana when we would go to a restaurant and she would complain about not being able to see the menu or the food -- we had trouble reading the exhibit notes and even seeing the exhibits. Everyone seemed to be straining to see in the dark. We had the audioguides, but it was a challenge to find the numbers corresponding to the exhibit being explained. There's no continuity, so sometimes the number was on the floor, sometimes at eye level, sometimes on the right, other times on the left. At one time I had the feeling I was looking for the numbers rather than looking at the exhibit.
As I said, the exhibit is interesting and the workmanship is beautiful. In fact we spent such a long time in Océanie that we went to have lunch instead of starting with Asia. After lunch (Do not eat at the overpriced café on the premises. The food was good, but very expensive and the service was very slow. There are cafés on the avenues on either side of the museum and your ticket is good for the day.) So, after lunch, we went to see the temporary exhibits: "The spirit of “Mingei” in Japan: folk art design" and "Upside Down - The Arctic Regions". The first one is really the arts and crafts movement in Japan - some beautiful ceramics, fabrics, furniture and accessories. THe second is made up of Inuit bone, ivory, and (rare) wood carvings. The bone and ivory carvings are tiny and amazingly detailed and beautiful.
After that, we went back up the ramp and spent a few minutes in the Africa section before deciding that there was too much to see and we should save it for the next time. It's a rich, rich collection.
Other news? Anne is signing the purchase of her apartment next week, so she'll be moving, soon. Emma and Laurent are on their way from Darwin to Alice Springs. Claire and Geoff have set the NEW date for their wedding: August 8, 2009. Louis and Gwen are busy working on their apartment, stripping the old electric installation so Manu can set up the new. Oh, we got ourselves a "new" car -- it's a used Prius, but it's still our new car. We got rid of the van (sorry all our guests who loved it) and the Twingo and now just have one car.
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Il est hors de question que je me répète mot pour mot.
Nous sommes allés au musée du Quai Branly il y a quelques jours. C'est un musée qui mérite plusieurs visites. Il est trop fatiguant à tenter la visite en une fois. On marche beaucoup -- d'abord une rampe interminable pour accéder à l'exposition. Ensuite, les cheminements sont à l'étroit et la navigation n'est pas évident. Il fait sombre et on peine à voir les objets et les encarts et ne parlons pas des numéros qui correspondent aux sujets sur l'audioguide -- difficile à trouver d'un objet à un autre.
Mise à part cette critique du musée, le contenu est fascinant et mérite d'être vu - donc en plusieurs fois.
On a aussi pris le temps de regarder les expositions temporaire : "Upside Down - Les Arctiques" et "L’esprit Mingei au Japon : de l’artisanat populaire au design". Très bien, les deux. Et très différents. L'esprit Mingei est, pour résumer, les arts déco -- des céramiques, les meubles, les tissus, etc. Et les Artiques se compose de bois (rare), os et ivoire sculptés finement.
Nous n'avons vu que la partie de l'Océanie dans la collection permanente; nous reviendrons pour voir le reste.
Pour les autres nouvelles : Anne signe son appartement la semaine prochaine. Emma et Laurent cheminent de Darwin à Alice Springs. Claire et Geoff ont fixé une NOUVELLE date pour le mariage: 8 août 2009. Louis et Gwen bricolent chez eux. Et nous avons une "nouvelle" voiture -- une Prius d'accasion, mais c'est notre nouvelle voiture qui remplace la Prévia et la Twingo.

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