In just a few days, Bordeaux has boosted its range of museums with the reopening of the Museum of Bordeaux and new rooms at the Museum of Aquitaine. The two initiatives give visitors a better understanding of Bordeaux, its history and its environment.
The inhabitants of Bordeaux have been without their museum for ten years. And they were anxious to get it back. The Museum was already a magnificent building, a private mansion built in 1778 for Nicolas de Lisleferme in the grounds of the Public Gardens. It became a stop-off for the city’s smaller inhabitants on their way to play in the park. Collections have been exhibited there since 1862. During the last ten years, the building has been renovated and adapted. Meanwhile, a 1,000m² storehouse was built to house the museum’s stuffed animals and restore them to their former glory. Of a collection numbering more than one million specimens, just 3,492 are now exhibited so that they can be better classified, explained and displayed. The exhibition spaces are both scientific and fun. Visitors’ hearing is also stimulated by sounds at the entrance to the rooms, where they can listen to the waves crashing and ebbing on the shore and big waves breaking further out to sea.
On the ground floor, visitors are greeted by the Museum’s longtime mascot, Miss Fanny, an Asian elephant who travelled with the circus and who died in 1892 in Bordeaux, where she had been adopted. As contrast, a tiny shew has been placed at her feet. On the first floor, the Aquitaine coast is in the spotlight with a stunning reconstruction of the oyster stakes of Arcachon Bay, rising from the mud in a lifelike display created by an artist. On the second floor is the magical Souverbie gallery. The skeleton of a whale looms large over animals from across the globe, including polar bears, giraffes, camels and hippopotamuses. The restored 19th-century display cases exhibit all sorts of animals, including the small Pyrenean brown bear, now extinct, and the impressive Dogue de Bordeaux. There are a few themed rooms too, including Eat Me if You Can, A Dentist’s Paradise and All the Babies, a space especially for children. For a deeper understanding, 22 interactive terminals, 18 video screens and 10 listening stations are ready to be explored by visitors.
For more information, go to https://www.museum-bordeaux.fr/en
Address: Hôtel de Lisleferme – 5 place Bardineau – 33000 Bordeaux
Opening hours: open Tuesday to Sunday
Summer opening hours, from April to September: 10.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Winter opening hours, from October to March: 10.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
Closed on Mondays and holidays except 14 July and 15 August
The Museum of Aquitaine has also embraced multimedia, with eight large projection screens, 14 interactive terminals and 5,000 digitally archived documents to stage its 20th- and 21st-century rooms. An immersive approach lets each visitor decide how far into the area they want to delve. These rooms shed new light on Aquitane for those inhabitants who weren’t aware of all their region had to offer, as well as for visitors who want to use it as a starting point to discover Nouvelle-Aquitaine, a vast area whose borders were expanded a few years ago. Its wide range of landscapes, from coast to forests, via mountains, sets the scene for traditional activities such as viticulture, forestry and agriculture. Manufacturers have produced models, such as CEA Cesta with its bright pink model Laser Mégajoule, Dassault with its Rafale C single-seater and the Safran Helicopter with its Arriel motor. The exhibition, which charts the transformation of Bordeaux in just a few years and the arrival of the aerospace industry, a leading economic sector, will spark the imaginations of big and small visitors alike. Bordeaux and its surroundings can’t be boiled down to pretty postcards. The Museum also puts itself on display. Occupying the premises of the former Arts and Sciences Faculty of Bordeaux, it exhibits a plaster cast of the Athena of Velletri, painted black by students during the May ’68 protests.
For more information go to http://www.musee-aquitaine-bordeaux.fr/en
Address: 20 Cours Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux, France
Opening hours: Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Closed on Mondays and holidays, except 14 July and 15 August