The Moon is universal, fascinating, benevolent, but not made out of cheese as the Apollo 11 astronauts confirmed just 50 years ago. It is one of the things everyone on the planet shares; it gives rythme to our days and our nights. When there is a brilliant full moon I am always happy to know that my parents, one third of the world away, are enjoying that same beautiful orb. The very same moon connects us all.
The exhibition La Lune / The Moon at the Grand Palais celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the first steps on the moon and offers us the opportunity to look at our longstanding relationship with this familiar astral body. This exhibition, because it is centered on a theme and not an artist, offers a whole variety of items to see. There’s a roman sarcophagus, a gouache by Marc Chagall, Michael Collin’s space helmet, Galileo’s telescope, video, poetry, many styles of painting and several new pieces created just for the exhibition. The five sections of La Lune / The Moon allow visitors to view scientific instruments and artistic creations inspired by the moon from antiquity to the present day, from Europe and elsewhere.
The exhibition begins with the Apollo 11 flight to the moon. Since antiquity, the idea of going to the moon has inspired unbridled inventiveness and imagination. With the Apollo 11 expedition, the voyage became a reality and heralded the dawn of a new era. But this was not the end of the era of imagination, quite the contrary: the dream was accompanied by grand interrogations into humankind, the role of women, nationalism, inequality and economic development.
The second part of the show presents how man has observed and mapped the moon over the centuries. The first attempt to draw the Moon was made by Thomas Harriot in 1609. With Galileo, increasingly precise instruments allowed the surface to be explored visually. The first maps of the planet were drawn up in the mid-17th century.
The last three sections are more artistic and they show interpretations of and interaction with of the moon over the centuries. We see the moon deified and personified as both man and woman and as a creator of beauty. The moon is a source of inspiration, near yet mysterious, which reveals Nature in a reflective, strange, intimate, melancholic and always contemplative light. It is a unique experience of beauty. At La Lune / The Moon, amongst the beauty, you’ll find scientific texts courtesy of the neighboring museum the Palais de la Découverte.
Did you know that the moon is creapping ever farther distant from the Earth? You won’t notice much change in your lifetime though because it is only at a rate of 3.8 centimeters per year.
The exhibit is a varied combination of science, art and entertainment for all. The moon is one part of our world that remains something we try to capture, literally as well as physically, and yet still remains everyone’s moon, possessed by no one. Seeing La Lune / The Moon (the entire exhibition is in both French and English) is a great way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “great leap for mankind”.
The exhibition runs until 22 July 2019 at the Grand Palais. Square Jean Perrin entrance. Open Thursday to Monday from 10 am to 8 pm, Wednesday from 10 am to 10 pm, closed on Tuesdays. Information and booking: www.grandpalais.fr
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