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My French Life: Museums and memories of France

May is when the European Night of the Museums takes place. It’s a night when many of the museums of France open to the public for free from 8.00 to midnight and sometimes later. Often the exhibits are lit with lanterna and candles and the administrators will throw in something special – a concert, a lecture, a performance of some sort. It happens every year all over Europe but France is the largest participant with famous museums such as the Louvre to small municipal museums and galleries welcoming everyone in for free.

In the spirit of joining in we have decided to nip down to our local museum in lovely Montreuil-sur-Mer to see what’s on.

The Other Half is not so sure that this is a good idea. I love museums and spent many weekends as a teenager in museums in London wandering from The Science Museum to the British Museum, from The Victoria and Albert (my favourite currently) to the Natural History Museum. What I have found though in France is that there are many “museums” that are really more like collections that your Nan might keep in a glass display unit! The Other Half found it hilarious at first when we’d go to a museum, get all excited about the glorious things we would see and then find a broken cup. a butter churn and a hoe. There is a reason though for these odd little assemblages that you seem to find in every town museum. These collections are a reflection of every day life and testament to the endurance of hard times. They are there to enable onlookers to imagine what life was like, appreciate the resilience of the owners of the items and recognise the dignity of objects that previously shared a human life. They teach the children of today who are so obsessed with computer games and social networking about the hard times that their ancestors went through so that their offspring would survive – and hopefully make them grateful.

So, having explained all this to a stony faced husband – we are going to Montreuil tomorrow to visit the Musée Roger Rodière, and be a part of the cultural event that is the Nuits des Musées. I will let you know how it goes…

You can check if there’s a museum near you taking part on the Nuits des Musées website.

A bientôt
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