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The Returned (Les Revenants)

Dr A and Dr H were lucky enough to spend some time in Paris over the summer.

While there we visited the National Museum of Archaeology in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a short train ride out from the city centre.

In the Palaeolithic gallery, we had a strange encounter with some of the objects recently on display in the Ice Age Art exhibition at the British Museum. While the BM show had displayed the objects as art – beautifully lit and in uncluttered cases – here they were presented in dry typological displays.

According to our sources, this method of display is a requirement of the bequest to the museum. However, we couldn’t help feeling sorry for the artefacts, newly returned from their sojourn in the British Museum. Did the Brassempouy Venus, like the characters in French zombie drama Les Revenants, find that returning to her old life wasn’t all she had expected?

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An exhibition of photographs by artist Claire Artemyz showed the objects in a more dramatic light.

But, overall, the drab beige and brown backgrounds in the cases and the general need for a good dusting in the cases left us leaving the museum in a somewhat melancholy state of mind.

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Don’t let this put you off visiting. Even if the presentation leaves much to be desired, the collections are stunning.

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Dr A and Dr H

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