The Miniatures Museum and Puppetry Museum – Lyon, Part 2

Get ready for an eyeful of satisfaction, set designers, or the generally design-inclined.

Started by Dan Ohlmann, a cinema set designer and ‘miniaturist artist’ (loose translation from the brochure, and perhaps a word that doesn’t exist in English), the first five floors of this narrow, historic building are given over to a collection of creatures, props, costumes, sets and prosthetics from various films, as well as explanatory videos about how they are built.

A horror/sci-fi nerd’s paradise. The whole basement and first floor are given over to fully reconstructed sets from the 2006 film Perfume – The Story of a Murderer, based on the novel by Patrick Süskind.

And the there was the monkey head. As a childhood Indiana Jones fanatic (and former aspiring archaeologist, in that order) it gave me a bit of a kick to see nine-year-old-Sian’s morbid obsessions in the flesh.

(Someone had to break it to nine-and-a-half-year-old-Sian that archaeology was basically all moving mud and staring at smashed ceramics. The dream died).

Anyway, all of his cinematic whimsy brings us from the basement to the top two floors, where the miniatures live…

Ohlmann was encouraged by friends to document his sets and creations in these model boxes, which is how the extensive practice of making, and collecting, über satisfying teeny dream worlds began.

It’s hard to show how small and exceptionally detailed these models are in the photos. Some of them are a little bigger than a shoebox, with the Dino Museum one being still less than a metre squared.* I tried holding out my thumb for scale, but my hand just looked monstrous and clumsily-designed by comparison.

Finally, the Puppetry Museum, down the road…

Again, the pictures don’t capture the finest aspect of this museum, which is it’s impeccable curation and interactivity. One example: there is a room given over to object manipulation, where videos of three leading French puppeteers demonstrate how to animate simple objects into characters.

I studied at CSSD years ago, the only university in the UK (maybe Europe? I can’t remember) with a three year, full time BA Puppetry degree. We worked closely with students on that programme, and so spent many extraordinarily fun workshops animating objects and watching cutting edge puppet theatre, an experience that is hard to explain to the Gen Pop, who think puppetry is essentially a creepy relic of old European fair grounds (and why wouldn’t they?)

Actually, puppetry one of the most visually and physically exciting forms of contemporary theatre. My favourite ever theatre show is an object theater piece, from France. The museum was incredibly interactive in its manner of bringing both this, and the ancient and global origins of object theatre, to the fore.

My TED talk on puppets is over, as is the Lyon section. Now, it’s time for some autumn sun.

Next stop? Montpellier and Marseilles!

S x

* I think?!? Can anyone really know an objects size from looking? I, for one,  regularly miscalculate and ricochet off door frames when walking into rooms.

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