[VIDEO] Musee de l’Homie: Paris’s ‘Museum of Mankind’ Dedicated to Human Evolution to Reopen to Public

After six years of renovations, the “Museum of Mankind” (Musee de l’Homme) in Paris will reopen its doors this week, after being inaugurated on Thursday (October 15) by French President Francois Hollande.

“Mankind hasn’t changed but the science of mankind has — we know that to understand mankind we must really grasp the biological and cultural aspects and there are plenty of questions in our society’s current events that require this double-understanding, this double-competence.”

—  Evelyne Heyer, curator

Although the exterior of the art deco building, located in the famous Trocadero square overlooking the Eiffel tower, remains unchanged, inside visitors will discover 2,500 square metres of entirely renovated exhibitions, offering a new perspective on the history and evolution of mankind.

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“What we wanted to do is present three questions: Who are we? What is mankind? To show in this part that mankind is part of the animal kingdom and that mankind is an interaction between biological and cultural elements, so that’s the first part. The second part is ‘Where do we come from?’ It’s the history of the evolution of our species and its expansion with a transitional period, what we call the Neolithic period, the moment where man began to domesticate nature. And the third part, it’s a bit along the lines of, ‘Where are we going?’ 

—  Evelyne Heyer

The permanent exhibition revolves around three fundamental questions, explains curator Evelyne Heyer.

“What we wanted to do is present three questions: Who are we? What is mankind? To show in this part that mankind is part of the animal kingdom and that mankind is an interaction between biological and cultural elements, so that’s the first part. The second part is ‘Where do we come from?’ It’s the history of the evolution of our species and its expansion with a transitional period, what we call the Neolithic period, the moment where man began to domesticate nature. And the third part, it’s a bit along the lines of, ‘Where are we going?’ We focused on three questions — globalisation, the impact of mankind on our environment and our biological evolutionary future,” Heyer told Reuters Television.

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“What we would like visitors to come away with for this last part of the exhibition is that the big questions faced by our society currently, about man’s adaptation to himself, are in the end questions that mankind has faced for 10,000 years. And it might be interesting to ask ourselves how humanity has resolved these issues, or not, in order to think about it or at least to tackle the solutions that we can come up with today to the erosion of biodiversity, for example, or the consequences of climate change.”

— Deputy curator Jean Pierre Vigne

The museum contains some of the largest and most reputable collections of prehistoric artefacts in the world, featuring recently acquired ethnological artefacts.

These remarkable objects are presented in chronological order — from the skull of man’s ancestor Cro-Magnon to that of French philosopher Rene Descartes — along with a gallery of 19th century busts representing human diversity in a modern way.

More than 96 million euros were invested by the French government to revamp the historic museum, which first opened its doors in 1938.

Heyer said that the methods of research into humanity have changed since then — researchers now know how important the relationship between biology and culture is in the functioning of human beings.

“Mankind hasn’t changed but the science of mankind has — we know that to understand mankind we must really grasp the biological and cultural aspects and there are plenty of questions in our society’s current events that require this double-understanding, this double-competence,” she said.

In the final part of the museum, visitors are greeted by a large Senegalese bus, a Mongolian hut and modern handmade objects, all elements that remind visitors of the impact human beings have had on their environment.

Deputy curator Jean Pierre Vigne said that visiting the museum should raise questions for visitors, including how the questions of our ancient ancestors are still relevant today. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Paris Vigil for Charlie Hebdo Massacre Victims

Europe Correspondent Nick Miller says there are a mix of emotions on the streets of Paris as thousands gather in solidarity with those killed.

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[VIDEO] White House Unsure Whether Murderous Rampage in France Is Terrorism

White House press secretary Josh Earnest refrained from calling the attack on a French magazine “terrorism” in an interview this morning on CNN:

The CNN host asked,

“Josh, when you talk about countering the message, you keep using the word violence. I mean, this is an act of terrorism, that’s what the president of France called it — an act of terrorism. You’re referring to ISIS and other bad actors, it doesn’t really matter who it is at the end of the day. You know you’re fighting a very large group of people of somewhat similar concern. Do you see this as an act of terrorism, and is this something that has to be condemned on that level?”

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“Based on what we know right now it does seem that’s what we’re confronting here. And this is an act of violence that we certainly do condemn, and if based on this investigation it turns out to be an act of terrorism, then we would condemn that in the strongest possible terms, too.”

Earnest continued,

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“I mean, look, this is again based on the very preliminary information that we have, this isn’t just an attack as you point out, Chris, on the people of France and on innocent civilians. This is an attack on some of the basic values that we hold dear here in this country and basic values of freedom of speech and freedom of expression and the free press that is also held dear by our allies in France. So this is something we take seriously and that we condemn, like I said, in the strongest possible terms.”

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UPDATE: A few minutes later, President Obama released a statement calling it a “terrorist act.”

“I strongly condemn the horrific shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris that has reportedly killed 12 people.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrorist attack and the people of France at this difficult time….(read more)

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