[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 »


Paris Is Turning

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Paris is turning schools, hotels into housing for migrants.

France has approximately 25,000 beds designated for asylum seekers, a number far short of the needs of the nearly 70,000 who applied for asylum in the country last year, part of what Julliard called the ‘unprecedented migrant crisis’ facing Europe.

PARIS (AP) — Maggy Donaldson reports: Before the Taliban forced him to flee Afghanistan, Younis exported flowers to the United Arab Emirates and China.

The 30-year-old crossed Iran, Turkey and much of Europe before arriving in Paris a month ago, a brutal journey that left him with a discolored lesion on his ankle and a swollen leg.

“I’m not poor. I like my country. I lived with my family. If I didn’t have to leave, I would live in Afghanistan.”

— Younis, Afghan refugee, who now sleeps in a former Paris high school

After weeks living on the banks of the Seine, Younis — who gave only his first name because his asylum application is still being processed — now sleeps in a former Paris high school that has been empty for four years, one of about 200 migrants living there.

Paris' deputy mayor, Bruno Julliard ©Francois Lafite/Wostok Press/Maxppp France, Paris

Paris’ deputy mayor, Bruno Julliard ©Francois Lafite/Wostok Press/Maxppp.

“Paris is turning a blind eye to humanitarian groups converting abandoned public buildings like the school into migrant centers, recognizing that the 1,000 official emergency housing spots Paris has created since June are not enough to shelter all migrants left without a roof.”

Paris is turning a blind eye to humanitarian groups converting abandoned public buildings like the school into migrant centers, recognizing that the 1,000 official emergency housing spots Paris has created since June are not enough to shelter all migrants left without a roof, Paris’ deputy mayor, Bruno Julliard, told French radio.

“I don’t have a job or a place to stay, I can’t read, I can’t focus.”

— Younis

The school’s classrooms are lined with sleeping bags atop makeshift cardboard mattresses. Migrants drink instant coffee and eat goulash concocted from donated ingredients. It’s bare-bones, but migrants, activists and many city officials agree it’s better than being on the streets. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Ooh La La! French Teenagers on a Boat on the Seine, Paris 1988


Paris 1963: Beatnik Paradise

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Parisian beatniks hanging out on bank of the Seine. Paris, France. 1963.

vintage everyday


[Books] White Out: The Secret Life of Heroin

André Da Loba for the Chroncle Review


André Da Loba for the Chroncle Review

A blackout or a white out is the brain’s way of telling the drug: You win.

Clancy Martin writes:  The most spectacular blackout of my long career as a drinker took place five years ago, during my last trip to Paris. I’m hazy on the details. I remember a huge fight with my second wife outside our rented apartment when I couldn’t remember the entry code. I half-remember being fished out of the Seine, without my glasses (I was later told I leapt from one of the bridges). And then I remember coming to my senses in the morning, still damp, propped up at a cafe table by a kind waiter, a hot cup of cafe crème on the table. I had no wallet, no money in my pockets. I couldn’t see. I don’t know how I found the apartment again, half-blind, with my bad French, in the migraine-strength-aura of a transcendental hangover. Sober—or, I suppose, still half-drunk—I remembered the code, but my wife wasn’t inside. Our passports were gone. I believed she had left the country, been kidnapped, or worse. I lay down and wept, promising God I would never drink again if he’d return my wife to me. (I’ve made and broken other promises to God.) Hours later the buzzer rang, and there she was, with my wallet, our passports, and the hope of a better, sober life. The rest of our week in Paris, I didn’t drink, and I didn’t buy new glasses. My wife led me around by the elbow, and I felt the giddy vulnerability of childhood, responsible for no one.

White Out: The Secret Life of Heroin By Michael Clune (Hazelden)

“Addiction represents a pathological usurpation of the neural mechanisms of learning and memory,” writes the psychiatrist Steven E. Hyman, quoted at the outset of Michael Clune’s terrific memoir White Out. This is the single most insightful and, for the addict, consoling observation I’ve ever read about what addiction is like. It is almost impossible for the addict to learn, to understand, and to remember that he cannot have his drug.

Read the rest of this entry »