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Radio: Listen Up! is making a lot of noise in Paris. Held at the Musée des Arts et Metiérs through September 2012, the exposition presents a bird’s ear view of radio history in France, beginning at the 1920 end of your dial and spanning all the way up to the 2000s.
The expo is divided into six main stations which allow the visitor to get in tune with every era of French radio. Each section has a giant radio specific to the period which doubles as a listening booth where visitors can hear broadcasts of the time. Some of the sound bites available include both Charles de Gaulle’s and (Head of State during the German occupation of France in World War II) Philippe Pétain’s Christmas messages to their supporters, soap opera excerpts and important news flashes.
The exposition’s six divisions are:
1920-1933: Amateur Radio – The birth of radio run by private organizations
1933-1939: Radio Shows – Live broadcasts and soap operas
1939-1945: War of the Waves – Radio as propaganda tool
1945-1960: Culture and Entertainment – Postwar radio in France is state run, featuring news and classical music
1960-1995: Radio, Medium of the Youth – Radio shows are aimed at young people and their music
2000-2012: Radio Goes Digital – The creation of podcasts and the ability to program your own radio station
The exhibition, however, is more than just sound bites and aural pleasure. In addition to displays of radios through the ages, the visitor will also see videos related to the radio, discover documents that explain the transition of the transistors and listen through headphones to archives of the airwaves. The sheer volume of information presented sets up the expo as an educational program in addition to its entertainment value.
Radio: Listen Up! presents a very complete analysis of everything radio related and is a must for anyone fond of the field or is particularly interested in the industry. The texts, unfortunately, are exclusively in French (as are the sound excerpts), so those guests unfamiliar with la langue de Moliére will find their pleasure restricted to the visual displays.
Speaking of displays, those attending the expo will want to continue their visit afterwards by visiting the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Musem of Arts and Industry) which hosts the exhibit. The museum is dedicated to innovation and the inventions that rise from them, so bring your weekend repairman or budding scientist here for an in-depth look at every aspect of materials, communication, energy, mechanics, transport and…churches.
That the museum has a section consecrated to churches is especially appropriate considering the Museum of Arts and Industry is itself located in deserted priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs. Abandoned in the aftermath of the French revolution, the abbey has housed scientific instruments and inventions collected by the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (National Conservatory of Arts and Industry) since 1794. Just one of the many prized possessions in the museum is an original version of the Foucault pendulum (the museum is even the scene of the climax of Umberto Eco’s classic novel!).
Additionally, both the museum and the expo have specific programs to entertain the young visitors, so bring the entire family to ride the wavelength of some fine tunings!
Radio: Listen Up!
Musée des Arts et Métiers
60 rue Réaumur
Ligne 3 – Station Arts et métiers
Ligne 4 – Station Réaumur-Sébastopol
Open Tuesday – Sunday, from 10am to 6pm (9:30pm on Thursday)
Closed Mondays and the 1st of May
Reduced Price: 3,50€ (for -18, jobless and teachers—all with ID)
By Paul Prescott (Paris Inspired Website)
All photos ©Paul Prescott
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