The Musée des Confluences has opened its door in Lyon

January 12, 2015 | By Louise Lassarre & Kimberly Corliss

After fifteen years in the making, the Musée des Confluences was inaugurated on December 20, 2014 in Lyon, France. At the intersection – or confluence – of the Rhone and the Saone rivers, the Musée is a glass building that seems like it could be made of either crystal and clouds. The new cultural institution offers a rich collection that explores the origins of both our Earth and humankind, on historical and geographical levels. It aims to present the relationship between science and society by emphasizing the plurality and diversity of each other. Holding over 2 millions objects from 17th century to now, coming from the Guimet fund as well as various donations and acquisitions, the museum is a true 21st Century cabinet of curiosities. These objects , the public can discover the Choulans mammoth, Theater Noh masks as well as an exemplary of Spoutnik 2 and an accelerator of particles. With four spaces dedicated to origins, species, societies and eternities, this new institution is at the crossroads of human and technical sciences and natural history. The scene presses us to pose universal philosophical questions—where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going?

Built by the Austrian agency Coop Himmel(b)lau in accordance with an initiative established by the Rhône region of France, the Musée des Confluences will host four to six exhibitions a year. Since its inauguration, two shows have been presented: Dans la chambre des merveilles and Les trésors d’Emile Guimet. More than 65,000 visitors have already visited since its opening, making for a promising future.

Described by its director, Hélène Lafont Couturier, as “a child’s attic, a gift box, an intermediary trip, a cabinet of curiosities, a pool of dreams, a source of knowledge, and a testament to the progress of science,” the Musée des Confluences is surely worth a trip.

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