It’s going to make the news. At night, museums in a different light

It’s going to make the news. At night, museums in a different light
It’s going to make the news. At night, museums in a different light

Museum of Natural History, New York. It’s dark night. Not a sound. Until, suddenly, the skeleton of a tyrannosaurus begins to prowl the corridors, Pharaoh Ahkmenrah opens his eyes and the exhibits come to life. Rest assured, none of this really happened, it’s just the film Night at the Museum, by Shawn Levy, with Ben Stiller. But who has never imagined themselves in such a situation? Stuck between the walls of a magnificent museum, in total freedom, while the sun has set and the moon has replaced it.

Does the night make the works even more mysterious? Or more beautiful? In his thesis A unique experience: visiting a museum at nightdoctoral student Floriane Germain recalls that “the night is a stimulus which acts on the senses (through perceptions), but also on representations (both social and mental). The nocturnal visits are nourished by these representations resulting from the night.”

Exit artificial light. At night, our senses are awake. We (re)discover the museum from a more intimate angle. And our imagination wanders. Moreover, Stock editions had launched the new collection “My night at the museum”, in which different authors spent the night in a museum of their choice, in search of emotions and sensations. What emerged was a rather surprising literary creation.

But can we really imagine what we would feel, locked in a museum for a whole night in the middle of all these works and all these objects which have their life, their history? “It also depends on the magnitude of the artist and his art,” thinks Garance Lefèvre, sales assistant at the Musée national Picasso-Paris who takes care of evening privatizations in particular. “Finding yourself alone at night with a Minotaur by Picasso, or with a colorful Kandinsky, that changes everything! »

“The museum space”as Floriane Germain defines it, also plays. “The museum is immensity, there are a lot of works, a lot of space, agrees Garance Lefèvre. It’s so big. So on a personal level, if I was stuck alone at night in a museum, I would take the works as people in their own right and I would have the impression that they were looking at me, whereas millions of people usually look at them. »

Nocturnal experiences multiplying everywhere

The fact remains that before finding yourself alone face to face with Mona Lisa, we will have to be content with walks with other people at our side. Around the world, nocturnal experiences – and especially unusual ones – are multiplying. In London next fall, the Natural History Museum will offer pajama parties and quiet strolls through the galleries, while the most VIPs are already entitled to a camp bed next to a stegosaurus. The one in Cardiff organizes evenings for paleontology enthusiasts with guided torchlight tours. At the Intrepid Museum in New York, you can also sleep in a World War II aircraft carrier.

In France, some now also accept visitors at nightfall, and not only during Museum Night. We remember, for example, in February 2020, when the Louvre in Paris welcomed the public from 9:30 p.m. to… 8:30 a.m. for the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition! A total success. Enough to make Mathilde Serrell wonder in her podcast The theoryon France Culture which hypothesized that these nights at the museum should no longer be the exception, but the rule. “Coming into contact with the works in this very particular climate is in itself an immersion such that museums are increasingly trying to develop it. Why not generalize these experiences further? »

> Museum Night, throughout France, Saturday May 18.

Glance

Weird, did you say weird? In the four corners of the world, there are unusual, even truly strange, museums! One of them, which receives thousands of visitors each year, is in Reykjavik, Iceland. The Icelandic Phallological Museum is rather unique, since it is dedicated to the study… of penises. Whether they are attributes of terrestrial or marine mammals (or even humans), he presents his specimens in jars of formalin or hung on the wall and ceiling.

On the other side of the globe, in Japan, we are wiser: the Momofuku Ando Instant Noodle Museum retraces this chapter of Japanese gastronomy by revealing packages of instant noodles from all over the world.

There is also the Museum of Death in Los Angeles (with a collection of objects and clothes that belonged to serial killers), the Museum of Bad Art in Boston (only devoted to failed art), the Museum of Broken Relationships in Croatia (objects from separated couples) or the Hair Museum in Turkey.

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