the biggest ever cabinet of marine world curiosities
What is a cabinet of curiosities? Come and find out thanks to artist Mark Dion.
He created one especially for the Museum. Thanks to him, you can travel through time and space in discovering the rarest of objects found during exploration of the deep blue seas, find all of this on the first floor (+1).
A journey through time
At the top of the lavish staircase which leads to the first floor, let’s enter the great hall. We then come face-to-face with a huge wall (18 metres wide and 10 metres high), created by artist Mark Dion.
It’s almost like pushing open the doors to the secret reserves of the Museum, where the rarest of objects are showcased, just like in the ancient cabinets of curiosities.
In an era when only explorers ventured to far-off lands, these collections, in a room or just a cabinet, allowed visitors to discover objects from unknown lands, and travel themselves through time and space.
The polar bear of Greenland
Just like in the past centuries, Mark Dion has created one side for natural objects, and the other side for objects linked to culture and human activity. Surrounded by the heady scent of ancient wood and the wax of the century-old display cabinets, we can admire skeletons, fossils, models, diving suits, chimeras and precious books.
With a bit of imagination, we almost feel like we’ve gone back in time to one or two centuries ago, daydreaming of the incredible adventures had by those who brought these objects back with them.
One of the key objects in this collection is a stuffed polar bear from the West coast of Greenland, or the diving suit that Karl-Heinrich Klingert created in 1797. In the early 19th century, this German inventor was able to breathe for several minutes underwater, at a depth of 12 metres.
Between the past and the present
This cabinet of curiosities was revealed in 2011 as part of the Océanomania exhibition. It bears witness to a successful alliance between art and science within the walls of the Museum, founded by Prince Albert I.
Hot on the trail of one of the greatest explorers of his time, it also pays tribute to all those who have set off on the discovery of the extraordinary wealth of our planet.
Between past and present, these objects seem to whisper messages to us, to protect the future of our environment.