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October 20, 2006

{     Old friends at Le Musée des Arts décoratifs     } is the link between Napoleon and Nintendo DS? Apparently none, but keep on reading. The Musée des Arts décoratifs just re-opened on September 15th, in a section of that same building currently referred to as the Louvre, in Paris, after a decade of dust-covered silence and hard working: the museum closed for restoration back in 1996. The collection now articulates on 3 wide floors hugging a central countyard, where all the white beauty of this 1850 building can be admired, plus 4 other big rooms climbing up on one of the towers. As a museum dedicated to the decorative arts, it hosts a collection of period pieces, ranging from the middle ages to today: you know, the usual ceramics, metal works, furniture. However many are the surprises wating for you in here: the very first room is in fact dedicated to toys. And the very first display shows nothing but Ugly Dolls and the James Jarvis family, surrounded by other familiar ultra modern vynil and plush friends. The second display looks back in time but not so much: I found three of my Barbies sitting in there, together with an impressive army of Star War toys, spaceships included. And many other long lost toys anybody born not after 1985 is due to recognize or own: robots, board games (the museum owns nearly a 1000 of them!), cars, planes and helicopters, plastic animals, tin toys, figurines and a lot more (like Harry Potter gadgets), all elevated to the stature of "art" and expression of a time specific decorative taste. The second room, if possible more exciting for any geeky type, is even more friendly since it collects nothing but video games: from the very first Atari Pong, when this game took a console all for itself, moving on to the first Super Mario Bros, then on to Game Boys (and all its evolutions), Sega Mega Drive, other smaller no name games (remember those?), Playstations, all the way up to the contemporary xBox. And many are hooked to a (modern) screen demonstrating how those oldies worked, orginal music included! From here on, the museum articulates as expected: from arabesque wallpapers to Rococo' chandeliers on to Neoclassical vases, Empire tables and Restoration chairs to continue into modernity with samples of Art Noveau, Art Deco', Eclecticism and on to the 20th century serial production, with a nice Study Gallery where pieces with the same function but from defferent periods are put side by side for you to realize which crazy evolution they have gone through. Yes, maybe the attention for chair is a tad ossessive and maybe the pieces from the 1930s onward are not many and not well presented (for the 60s and 70s only chairs are displayed: no radio, television set, typewriter, house appliance is given room or consideration, despite their importance in the world of design), but maybe this is not the focus of this museum, built by express desire of Napoleon himself and since collecting period pieces: you can actually say it is quite oriented to modernity. If you get bored looking at furniture (they seem to have though about this issue as well), you can enter in the Jewelry Gallery, a black room where the bling bling of the last 4 centuries gives you the feeling of being in the Queen of England treasure chamber, or have a look at the Musée de la Publicité, of partuclar interest for the creative usage of space: here are shown French commercial posters from the eve of advertsing onto the boom of the 50s and 60s to end with today's ads. Even a commercial hater like myself found great enjoyment in looking at early 19th hundred ads for drinks and clothes. Until the last 3 decades, they all look so innocent and pleasing to watch. And, before going out, what's best is rummaging again in the toy section: you are sure to discover you own at least one museum piece!

     » Le Arts décoratifs - 107 rue de Rivoli

By Tacita in Art, Reviews

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