The story of the resistants in the 1944 liberation of Paris from Nazi control is being told at a new museum opening on August 25. The Musée de la Libération celebrates two towering figures of the Resistance: Jean Moulin and Philippe Leclerc de Hautecloque—two men who never met but who both sparked local and international support for the city during the occupation. Originally, a selection of the artifacts now on view in the museum’s permanent collection was on display in a haphazard and little-known exhibition hall in the Montparnasse district. However, with efforts directed by Parisian mayor Anne Hidalgo, a more cohesive curatorial effort is now housed in a grand 18th-century mansion that was ground zero for the final days of the Resistance movement. Originally owned by Henri Rol-Tanguy, who outfitted the basement for use by Moulin, the house and its subterranean bunker have undergone a $22 million refurbishment over the past four years. It's been filled with the photographs, personal items, and letters of the resistants and its celebrated leaders, as well as from the general Parisian public. The bunker was integral to the final days of the Resistance since its useful amenities were located 99 steps below ground. These included a pair of airtight steel doors that could be used in the event of a gas attack, a 250-line telephone exchange that could connect leaders to the police (bypassing Nazi-run lines), and a bicycle-powered electricity generator that could keep ventilation moving despite being so far underground. All of these elements have been meticulously restored and revealed to the public in the new museum. Hanna Diamond, an expert on World War II from Cardiff University, told The Guardian that the aim of the museum's display was to be "as engaging and as accessible as possible." "There’s a real republican responsibility here,” she said. The materials collected by the museum include everything from a schoolboy’s wallet filled with ration cards to the walking stick that Leclerc was never without. The narrative told is centered around the heroic events of August 25, 1944, so it's also fitting that the museum will open its doors on the Liberation’s 75th anniversary. “The museum’s potency is greatly enhanced by the fact that 'it all actually happened here,'" Diamond said. The Musée de la Libération sits directly across from the entrance to Paris’ famous catacombs and is poised to welcome up to 14,000 visitors per year, according to Le Monde. It will serve as a lasting monument to the stories of the resistants and their chapter of French history for years to come.
Posts tagged with "World War II":
Donald Weber is a former architect turned visual media artist. His latest project, War Sand, is a series of microscopic photographs that depict pieces of shrapnel embedded in individual grains of sand along the beaches of Normandy. Each photograph—which takes over eight hours for Weber to produce—is a testimony to one of the most famous days in history, as well as to the relationship between art and science. "I like the idea that through science, art can reveal itself," Weber told Texas arts blog Glasstire. "And through art, science can reveal itself." In War Sand, both elements are certainly present. Physicist Kevin Robbie helped produce the photographs by using a powerful magnet to withdraw the shrapnel bits from the sand samples. The extracted metals were placed underneath a microscope, where Weber’s original theory—that shrapnel remained on Normandy’s beaches—was proven true. The sand grains that “housed” the shrapnel were then color coded to identify the types of metals embedded in the beach seventy years ago. The selected color palette—blue, green, and yellow—matches the natural colors found on the beach. One photograph depicts what looks like an artillery shell but is actually a diatom, or the casing built by ocean algae. Since diatoms feed off iron, Robbie posits that the iron this particular diatom fed from was in fact a shrapnel remnant from D-Day. “Ultimately,” Robbie said to Glasstire, “this remnant from this battle that killed many people is providing nutrients to a form of life decades and decades later.” The project as a whole demonstrates an amazing symbiosis between technology and art, but also of nature’s ability to rebuild itself after the intrusion of mankind. As Weber noted, "History never goes away. There's always a trace here or a remnant there.” At the project’s completion, Weber hopes to compile all the photographs into a book.
Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for the Second World War Canadian Centre for Architecture 1920, rue Baile Montréal, Québec, Canada Through September 18 How did World War II impact the built environment? This new exhibit curated by Jean-Louis Cohen explores how 20th century architects contributed to the war efforts and how their work ultimately led to the modern structural and technological innovations that make some of today’s complex designs possible. WWII was an accelerator of technological innovation, and from 1937 to 1945 architects were frequently pressed to pursue the most modern solutions, which often meant the most cutting edge. Designed by New York-based WORKac, the exhibit is comprised of drawings, photographs, posters, books, publications, models, historical documents, and films that reveal how contemporary architecture left its mark on the landscapes of both the Axis and the Allied powers. Organized thematically, the exhibition focuses on wartime activity as well as architects and their projects in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, the United States, and the USSR. Architecture in Uniform is part of a larger project at the CCA that examines the various roles of architecture from the Second World War to today called On the Natural History of Destruction.