They are there! The sumptuous models of boats which were the charm of the National Maritime Museum, at the Trocadéro, in Paris, before its major renovation, can be discovered almost immediately. In its new museography, the transformed institution has managed to keep its soul. After the vast reception hall and a first virtual immersion in the ocean through images and sounds, families will enjoy tacking between these incredible frigates, galleys and other ships, represented at all scales, depending on whether they were used as a toy, a craft object introduced into a bottle by Newfoundland fishermen or, as for the largest, The Royal Louis, educational support to train naval officers around 1770. Restored down to the smallest shrouds by the museum’s restorers, this work, more than 5 meters high, fascinates with its delicacy and detail.
A treasure of 40∘000 coins
The long and winding journey of the permanent collection exhaustively evokes man’s relationship with the sea throughout history up to the present day. It follows, without partitions, the curvature of the Davout wing of the Palais de Chaillot so well that you quickly find yourself surrounded by objects emerging from the darkness as if in a fabulous cavern. Different “stopovers” present the treasures of an immense collection of 40,000 objects. Begun under Louis○XV, it is still being enriched today and is shared between the museum’s five branches located in French ports. Between two stops, a “○crossing○” explores a theme also drawing on new technologies. Thus, visitors dive into the trough of an impressive wave which introduces the part devoted to storms and shipwrecks. The recently found pieces of the scientific expedition of La Perouse, lost at sea in 1788, dramatic paintings from the Romantic era but also buoys, 21st century lifeguard uniforms and display cases dedicated to underwater archeology document the subject. And you can navigate between the “○islands○” which present the artifacts, according to your centers of interest.
This mixture of works of art and traces of the daily life of sailors, vestiges of yesterday and objects of today is not shocking. On the contrary. And then the journey is full of surprises. As with this gigantic figurehead bearing the effigy of Napoleon I opening the last section, devoted to political power over the sea. Taking advantage of the monumental monument, the architects brought daylight into this area at the end of the gallery which invites you to take a break with its numerous benches –○the museum particularly highlights its policy of accessibility to all audiences.
For its reopening, the National Maritime Museum is organizing a big festive weekend for three days, from Friday November 17 to Sunday November 19, free and open to all.
Ports magnified by painting
In 1753, the painter Joseph Vernet was commissioned by Louis XV to create an imposing series of paintings representing “Views of the Ports of France”. He will execute fifteen of them. Thirteen of these immense restored paintings are exhibited together at the Maritime Museum. “○It was a very political project which consisted of magnifying the ports and their economy, with a great concern for precision, but also a desire for embellishment○” explains curator Damien Bril in charge of the paintings. The wide panoramas of Marseille, La Rochelle, Bordeaux… bathed in a soft, almost dreamlike light, reveal a multitude of characters: fishermen, soldiers, groups of aristocrats strolling in scenes bustling with activity. These works, interesting for their documentary aspect, also seduce with their beautiful classic aesthetic.