My best attempt to describe this technical, industrial museum is as a Mecca for Makers. It’s not a funky new space with a bunch of hipsters manning 3D printers – not that I have a problem with such spaces… I love those spaces :-) – rather it’s a shrine to all manner of human invention and creation since before the industrial revolution.
The first thing I had to see on entering the museum, this morning, was Foucault’s Pendulum – with the museum playing a key part in Umberto Eco’s incredible novel of the same name, this was a “must see” for me – but this was really just the tip of the iceberg.
Here are some other examples…
The very-quick-but-uncomfortably-windy, propeller-powered “Hélica”:
The bat-inspired “Avion 3” – how’s this for biomimicry?
A library of solids:
Some early, 8-bit home computers:
These are just a few of my personal favourites: there was a mindboggling number of exhibits to choose from. The museum’s permanent collection has sections on Scientific Instruments, Material, Energy, Mechanics, Construction, Communication & Transport. There was also an interesting-looking temporary exhibit called Invention/Design running until March 2016. It wasn’t a serious option for me to take the time to visit this, too, but in some ways I wish I’d made it work.
The museum also has a Google Cardboard-compatible mobile app you can install to check out some of the permanent exhibits from the comfort of your home.
If I had one minor criticism to make of the museum, it’s that I found it somewhat (perhaps understandably?) skewed towards French inventions. Lip-service was paid to major contributions from elsewhere, but the overall feeling you came away with is that France has been instrumental in shaping the technological landscape for the last 300 hundred odd years. Which isn’t completely wrong, it’s just part of the story.
But this didn’t take away from the overwhelmingly positive experience of visiting this incredible museum. If you ever visit Paris and haven’t already been there, put it on your list!