During one special night a year, Paris museums stay open till midnight, hosting a flurry of events and making the experience a whole lot more interactive for museum lovers. More than 3,000 museums in Paris and across Europe will take part in this year’s Nuits des Musées (night of museums) on May 18. Happenings will include concerts, light and sound shows, live art performances and installations, poetry readings, demonstrations, guided visits, and, most intriguing of all, behind-the-scenes tours of some of Paris’ most iconic museums.
There is something fascinating about experiencing a museum at night. One of the most wonderful occurrences this year will undoubtedly involve the Musée Rodin, a museum which will invite artist Erik Samakh to create an oeuvre in the gardens. Musée d’Orsay will also be participating in all the excitement with an event that seeks to remind visitors of a far-off journey with Byways, an artistic homage to slowness from the Myriam Gourfink dance company. Under the elegant glass roof of the museum and the iconic clock of the former train station, seven dancers from the company will give a symbolic performance bridging the gap between space and art.
This annual event, which was created in Europe in May 2005, has become the time of the year when culture enthusiasts come out and explore beloved monuments and buildings under the moonlight. Organized by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, and supported by UNESCO, the European Night of Museums coincides with International Museum Day. Many art attractions, mostly across Europe, will be putting on performances (flash-mob-style dances in Romania), events (green living workshops in Latvia) and other forms of entertainment (ghost tours in England) throughout the day.
For visitors keen on an out-of-Paris experience, the Nuit des Musées events at the Château de Fontainebleau come highly recommended. The château, which is less than two hours from Paris, is readily recognized in contemporary circles as the palace in Lana Del Rey’s “Born to Die” music video. But on May 18th it will play host to an outdoor bubble installation. There will be live music accompanied by light and sound shows.
To help you plan your Fontainebleau itinerary or a visit to any of the other participating venues, a map can be downloaded here. Entrance to all museums and events is free. Museums will be open from 6:00 p.m. to midnight, although these times may vary slightly from place to place. Last year’s festival attracted more than 2 million people in France alone, so expect big crowds of smiling patrons at every gallery turn.
Photos Courtesy of Patrice Schmidt, Joel Damase, Midi Pyrenees and CFinocchi