Musée national de Préhistoire,
Les Eysies

by Bert Schwarz

As so often, here again: Internet research is good for a rough, or in our case, large-scale information. In this way, with luck and help, we «stumbled» into a very nice, dedicated staff member of the museum into this unique house.

Musée national de Préhistoire, Les Eysies © Bert Schwarz

The National Museum of Prehistory is a place of remembrance of prehistoric history, a repository of objects, a study centre and a place of dissemination of knowledge in constant evolution and, since its creation at the beginning of the 20th century, a point of reference for prehistorians and visitors. The museum is close to the most important collection of human art, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It houses exceptional collections that today enable us to trace more than 400 millennia of human existence.

Story, Camera, Edi : Bert Schwarz

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From 1913, the archaeologist Denis Peyrony, who had also discovered many other archaeological sites, had the French State buy the ruins of the Château des Eyzies in order to preserve, study and present the archaeological heritage of the Vézère valley.

This region is very interesting in this respect, including the continuity of its settlement during prehistoric times and was a privileged habitat for man and animals during the ice ages. Remarkable conditions for the preservation of the works and high quality scientific research. We are amazed to see how people here master their ability to express themselves symbolically, both in the Neanderthals in their first burial forms (80,000 B.C.) and in Homo sapiens, the modern man with the appearance of monumental art in its various forms (35,000 B.C.).

Musée d'Art Classique de Mougins © Bert Schwarz
Musée d'Art Classique de Mougins © Bert Schwarz

The extension, designed by Paris architect Jean-Pierre Buffi, was inaugurated on 19 July 2004 and has significantly increased the capacity of the building, offering the public the best conditions for visits. On an area of almost 1,500 m², more than 18,000 exhibits are displayed in a completely new combination.

Musée d'Art Classique de Mougins © Bert Schwarz
Musée d'Art Classique de Mougins © Bert Schwarz

From the light-flooded entrance area we enter a dimly lit hall, then enter through a narrow dark gallery the «stratigraphic funnel» , a spiral ascent that physically and symbolically detaches us from today's world in order to better immerse ourselves in prehistoric times. The permanent exhibition spaces extend along the rock face without hiding it, transforming it into a real backdrop and reflector of daylight. Glazed walls open onto it, creating a bright atmosphere, while vertical slits filter the intense light from the south, occasionally framing a view of the valley. We became curious and encouraged to turn to the rock face outside, an integral part of our time travel.