FROM 15 APRIL TO 14 NOVEMBER 2010

The exhibition Désirs d’éternité is presented «beyond the city walls» by the Musée des Confluences, currently being built in Lyon by the Département du Rhône. It is being hosted by the Gallo-Roman museum in Saint-Romain-en-Gal – Vienne, another cultural institution created and managed by the Département. The exhibition will allow visitors to discover in a great premiere, a part of the ethnologic, archaeological and contemporary collections of the Musée des Confluences.

Facing death

A sensitive scenography at times poetic, at times contemplative accompanies the visitor all along his visit of the exhibit. Désirs d’éternité demonstrates the wealth of representations linked to death that remains a universal concern and inhabits all societies. The relationship to death has changed in our Western civilization and in particular in Europe, over the last century. Even today new human relations and challenges are being built. Sociologist Patrick Baudry and the Jesuit Pierre Gibert, a culture historian, look at this societal matter from another perspective. How has Humanity dealt with death through time and space, up to the point of trying to tame it, even to conquer it?

A funerary world tour

A wide variety of objects, mostly from the collections of the Musée des Confluences, is presented in the exhibition. The latter evolves logically, from the acceptance of death up to the methods to preserve the body and soul, including all rituals of accompaniment – music, dances or sculptures. Archaeological pieces come from the Pharaohs’ Egypt – Ushebties and Canopic urns in which were kept the mummified entrails. The ethnological collections from the province of Fujian in China, from Africa, Australia, New-Caledonia and France put together result in having next to one another pieces as varied as a funerary post from Madagascar, white masks from Gabon or the decorated trunk-receptacles of the Aborigines. Contemporary works such as photographs, paintings or sculptures help make the link up to our time, characterized by the omnipresence of death in the social field as well as its concealment in the private sphere.

A rediscovery: Kuban tomb

In this very rich and varied collection of the Musée des Confluences, special mention should be made of the presentation of a tomb from the Iron Age (813 B.C.) from the necropolis of Kuban, in Caucasia (Northern Ossetia). It was brought out just for this event. It is a female tomb, dug up and declared in 1881 by Ernest Chantre, then the sub-director of the Museum of Lyon. It is the only one that remains in the world from the six hundred that were then found in the necropolis. It was re-discovered in 2003 in the collections of the Musée des Confluences, and has since been the object of international, interdisciplinary scientific research. An interactive audiovisual will allow visitors to follow the discoveries step by step.
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