Unusual Museums


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The Cinematheque Francaise
Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007

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The Cinematheque Francaise
Chris Card Fuller ©2007

My favorite museum in Paris: La Cinematheque Francaise
I am definitely biased when it comes to this museum which is not only a museum but one of the most important film archives in the world, thanks to its founder Henri Langlois. Langlois never knew the museum and archive’s present location in the F.O. Gehry designed building which originally housed the American Center. Nevertheless, I think Langlois would have liked the building’s design.

The truth is I had a hard time getting myself to set foot in the new building simply because I had always thought of the Cinematheque and the Palais du Chaillot as being inseparable. This was the former home for the film archive while Langlois was still alive and guarding the archive like a dragon – as Cocteau had described him.

Although F. Gehry may never have dreamed that his building would eventually house the result of another visionary’s huge and insatiable thirst for all films great and small – their creative minds seemed to have dovetailed at an interesting time in history. What I haven’t been able to find (yet) is a description of Gehry’s intentions for this building when it was originally being built as an American Center.

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While I was looking for more info about Gehry on the net, I came across the site www.absoluteart.com. History puts adulatory praise in very peculiar context: Consider this gem re: Gehry’s work:

“The uniqueness of Frank Gehry’s work is the blending of the functional with the artistic to create an innovative product,” said Jeff Skilling, Enron President and CEO. “This is a quality Enron relates to every day as we question traditional business assumptions and embrace innovative solutions.”

Businesses come and go – great architecture remains.

The facade of the Cinematheque overlooks Bercy Park. Langlois would have liked that also. He and his longtime partner Mary Meerson lived on Rue Gazin overlooking the Parc Montsouris. From the front terrace of the Cinematheque, you can see a merry-go-round in the distance.

It has been said (and is repeated in the upstairs permanent exhibit at the Cinematheque) that the firing of Langlois from his position as director of the Cinematheque in the Spring of 1968 was the tinder that set off the Students’ 1968 Revolt. You can learn more about this part of Paris history at the Cinematheque Francaise. (Also Check out Richard Roud’s book on the Reading List)
51 Rue Bercy
Metro: Bercy
www.cinemathequefrancaise.fr

Here, you can see Scarlett O’Hara’s dress from Gone With the Wind!