Musée des Arts et Métiers

by jemma margaret

Here is some data viz to convince you not to go to the Musée d’Orsay on a Sunday.

mdorsaySo I decided to stay closer to home and visit the much more modest halls of the museum of real work (as in, not art–lest the name of the museum fool you).

I apologize for not bringing my camera. The museum was very striking. Here are some photos on their website.

Highlights included an original meter (nothing quite says la civilisation like the metric system), Lavoisier’s laboratory (including an air pump! I have just finished reading Leviathan and the Air Pump, so this was very nice), Fresnel’s lens (with which he proved the wave like nature of light), a human flying device from 1893 (inspired by a bat and a bicycle apparently), and floppy discs.

For those of you who’ve read Foucault’s Pendulum, this is where the opening scene takes place (I have only read the opening scene, so I can’t speak for the location of the rest of the book). Foucault’s pendulum is still there, still moving.

The museum also boasts the squeakiest floors ever. The collection has been housed on Rue Reamur since the 18th century, and I suppose that’s what happens over time to wooden floors.

History of science, especially seeing the actual physical tools and practices of scientists, inspires in a way that learning facts does not. Hey these people tried to learn new things and you can too.