Nous, les Fleuves. We, the rivers. The latest temporary exhibition in the Musée des Confluences in Lyon (France) is important to us for more than one reason.
A year ago Virgile Caspar from the museum contacted us, asking if our maps were available to license. They really liked the colourful river basin maps, and they found them a perfect fit for their upcoming exhibition. After looking up the museum, we felt honored and gladly said yes to their inquiry.
The museum is impressive from both outside and inside. The building is a wonderful piece of modern architecture designed by the internationally renowned firm Coop Himmelb(l)au, built at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône rivers. It is not an art museum, but a museum of knowledge that boasts various permanent and temporary exhibitions mostly in the field of cultural anthropology. These exhibitions connect art, history, science and culture to help us understand the wonders in our world.
Nous, les Fleuves teaches about the wonders of rivers: their birth and journey through landscapes, their role in our everyday lives and what they have meant to us throughout the centuries. It shows us their power and also their fragility. As you step in, lighting creates an eerie atmosphere, successfully imitating the feeling of being underwater. Walking further you feel like you are flowing with the river, visiting all the places it passes through.
Our giant river basin map of the world is the centerpiece of the section about confluences, along with a beautifully sculpted terrain model of a river basin - the remarkable creation of Sylvestre Bénard. With the help of 3D projection and sound, the model explains how watersheds work and why they are important in the lives of all living beings. Together they form a whole, one would be less without the other. An excellent example of the many great solutions you can find throughout the exhibit.
This exhibition is a little bit closer to our hearts than the others our maps have already played parts in. From the day we got our invitation in September, we were asking for your help so we can be part of the inauguration ceremony. Although we had never reached our original goal on Ko-fi, we'd raised a lot more money than we hoped to expect and could leave just in time to get to Lyon a few hours before the program started. This was also the first time we saw our work displayed in an exhibition, even though Robert's been making these maps for six years and already licensed them for quite a few museums all over the world. Moreover, this map is one of the biggest Grasshopper Geography maps ever printed: it is 4.5 meters high and about 6 meters wide, which adds a lot to its value.
Seeing people standing in front of our work pointing, explaining and storytelling was a humbling experience and quite an extraordinary feeling. We will be forever grateful for everyone who helped make our trip possible. Thank you.
Nous, les Fleuves is open until 27 August 2023, and thanks to the bilingual signs and descriptions it can be enjoyed by both French and English speaking audience alike. Visit the museum's page to find out more.
If you'd like to watch a video about the exhibition, we recommend this FranceTV article.