The Origins of the World exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay, 19th May – 18th July 2021

The Musée d’Orsay, not far from our hotels, has a new exhibition all about the link between the arts and natural science of the 19th century, a fascinating subject brought up to date with a few touches of modern art.

The Origins of the World exhibition at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 19th May - 18th July 2021

In the latter half of the 18th century, scientific voyages of discovery were documenting new lands and the animals that they encountered. Naturally, they wanted to share their discoveries with the world.

In order to do so, artists often accompanied the scientists in roder to document these exotic animals. Sometimes, they would remain in Europe and draw from descriptions given to them. The resulting images were sometimes realistic but often fanciful, with scenes of monsters, minotaurs and mermaids.

Of course this seemingly inexhaustible subject fascinated artists of the era, and now – for the first time – the Musée d’Orsay, aided by the Natural History Museum, is showing the incredible mix of science, art, symbolism and even Art Nouveau.

The Origins of the World exhibition at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 19th May - 18th July 2021
All rights reserved
The Origins of the World exhibition at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 19th May - 18th July 2021
All rights reserved

As the Museum has opened the exhibition late (after lockdown), it’s difficult to say whether the events linked with the exhibitions will still be held (the Microcosm installation by Philippe Quesne, Isabelle Rossellini’s show Le fantôme de Darwin, the Pipornithology concert-experience by Christophe Chassol…).

One new contemporary piece that you will be able to see if a film by Laurent Grasso called Artificialis. Shown on a huge LED screen at one end of the museum’s vast nave, it mixes the real and the virtual and is set to new music by Nick Cave collaborator Warren Ellis.

The film below by Heinz Peter Schwerfel should help give you an idea of what the project is like (choose English subtitles from the ‘settings’ menu).

Other events planned include a show called Zoo with involvement from the Théâtre de la Ville, three concerts fro families (two of which have been created specially for the exhibition), talks in the auditorium…

A smart-looking catalogue of the exhibition is also available (384 pages, 45€ here at amazon.fr).

The Origins of the World exhibition at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 19th May - 18th July 2021

You might also like to know that the venerable Musée d’Orsay has just started its own TikTok! Check it out here kids!

The exhibition The Origins of the World – the Invention of Nature in the 19th Century is at the Musée d’Orsay (here) from 19th May to 18th July 2021

Open every day except Mondays from 9.30am-6pm (9.45pm Thursdays)

Admission: 16€ / 13€

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