Fri 16 Dec 2011
On one of the Internet discussion lists in Romanian that I am subscribed to, the subject of the identity of the Quebecois popped-up this week. This brought to my memory an evening spent this summer in the ‘Musee de la Civilisation’ in Quebec-City.
The occasion was the social event of the IETF-81 meeting that was hosted by the city. Unfortunately, it was one of these trips which are more business than pleasure, so I skipped taking my camera. Yet, memories are still fresh for a few instant flashes backed-up by pictures and clips. Starting of course with the building which is designed to integrate well in the urban landscape of a city that cherishes its heritage but also expresses the ideas and motives of one of its architects, the Haifa-born Moshe Safdie (among other works of him I admired in the last few years – Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the international terminal at the Ben Gurion airport, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa).
The connection in memory was caused by the permanent exhibition Le Temps des Quebecois which allows for a historical journey through the history of North America viewed from the perspective of the French community. It was fascinating and I recommend the exhibition (as well as the whole museum) for history fanz like myself who happen to travel to Quebec. Many facts will be unknown for the majority of the visitors, and the perspective on events we know and think we fully understand may be very different.
The museum also hosted another two temporary exhibitions. With Rome – De ses origines a la capitale de l’Italie which was organized in cooperation with some of the big museums in the Italian capital was much more familiar grounds for me from an historical point of view, and yet had a few very interesting pieces of information – for example about the period after the fall of the Roman empire and before the late Middle Ages when popes made of the Eternal City the non-contested capital of Catholicism when the city was reduced to the proportions of a small city or big village as many other around. Sic transit gloria mundi - the saying that has its origins in Rome had a special meaning in those times.
Last I would mention is DIEU(X) – Mode d’emplois which brought together the mosaic of the principal religious faiths, their principles, their symbols and key practices. Certainly some superficiality cannot be avoided in one exhibition that gets together what is expressed in full museums and thousand of books, but the fact itself of bringing these under one roof, of having them co-exist one near the other and allow the visitors to meet and understand the basics of all is a beautiful idea. I wish this exhibition or a similar one be brought to the young people in Israel, so many of them ignoring almost anything about other faiths than Judaism.