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Modern art

Top models. A princely lesson in the 18th century

80 min visit

Museum of Arts and Crafts
16 Oct → 7 Mar 2021
From Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Closed Monday.

« A feminine vision of the educational model of the Enlightenment. »

Contrary to what one might think, the exhibition does not deal with 18th century manners and fashion! But it does present models, a dozen or so scale models of nail-makers, carpenters and locksmiths' workshops... Amazing, isn't it? These practices were little studied by the youth of the Age of Enlightenment. Until the arrival of Madame de Genlis (1746-1830) who revolutionised teaching methods. A woman of letters, she was a committed author who enjoyed international success with her book "Adèle et Théodore ou Lettres sur l'éducation", an echo of Rousseau's "Emile". The Countess was none other than the governor of the children of the Duke of Chartres, including the future King Louis Philippe! Believing in pedagogy through objects, she built small workshops to help the children she took care of discover the industrial activities of the time, down to the smallest details: chemistry laboratories, distiller of strong water, lead and iron work, ceramics, porcelain and lead blankets... Everything is there! These models have become important archives, witnessing not only teaching practices but also the industrial techniques of the 18th century. Other objects from prodigious collections (the central library of the Cnam, the national museum of the castles of Versailles and Trianon, the National Library of France, the National Museum of Education, the Château d'Eu and the Army Museum) are installed alongside them. The exhibition is presented in such a way as to give an account of the experimentation and practical gestures of Madame de Genlis' principles: physical and/or digital mediation is proposed, with a more playful itinerary for the youngest ones! As you will have understood, you have to manipulate to learn.


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