Muséum de Toulouse. (I can only speculate as to why they don’t they use the French word musée.) I had no idea what kind of museum this was going to be; it was just a means of staying dry as far as I was concerned. But I was delighted to find that it was of geology and natural history, and of the interaction of the two, which was perfectly to my taste. There was a sort of pre-entrance with an exhibition about the chemical elements which I found bizarre, possibly trendy, and I hoped that this was not a bad omen. It was not: I found rest of the museum excellent.
It was fun to see, at the real entrance, three cartoon of animals, all of which I had seen in the wild in very recent years: brown/grizzly bear, wolf, and lynx. The first exhibits were of mineral specimens. Eat your heart out, crystal shops of Glastonbury – my reflection gives an idea of the size of these. The rest were of a more reasonable size. (I took many, many photos throughout the museum, and could have taken many more. In this post are just a small selection of those I did take.)
Next it was earthquakes. These little models indicate the destruction occurring in earthquakes on various degrees of the Richter scale. You could stand on a metal plate which shook you as you watched a video, presumably taken on a web-cam, of the effects on an earthquake in a real home. The gentleman reading his paper at the outset left the house after a longer period than I would have put up with. Perhaps he was accustomed to minor earthquakes, and thought there was nothing to worry about. His exit when it did come was very hasty!
This is a beautiful old Chinese (or was it Japanese?) seismograph. Each of the dragons has a ball in its mouth. The first one to fall into a frog’s mouth during an earthquake indicates its direction.
Then came plate tectonics. I could sit and watch the dance of the plates over the last 600 million years for ever. I find it infinitely fascinating. And this video takes the dance forward, to show how the Mediterranean will close up in due course.
Living creatures next, classification and characteristics. I loved these skeletons.
A huge area was given over to the exhibition of creatures by their classes, and explanations. There was a risk that this could have been a rather old-fashioned display, rows of animals pinned up behind windows, but it was so well presented that it worked. I confess that I failed to notice the blue lines indicating relationships in this exhibit, until I saw the photo.
When I got to the apes, I said to myself, tongue in cheek, ‘Wot, no human?’. But there were several images on the screen at the end of the window, this one comparing homo sapiens with a gorilla. Upstairs, the next room linked together the geology of the inanimate with the evolution of the animate, geological period by geological period, with illustrations of how the tectonic plates were located at any particular time. I was beginning to flag by now, especially as I had not yet had any lunch, so did not give this the time I would have liked. Here are just a few of the maps of how the earth’s plates were at the given time, and even fewer of the fossil exhibits. The museum would need several visits to do it justice.
I don’t have a great interest in fossils, though I do appreciate their ability to date a given rock, but I loved this petrified slice of tree trunk. I just whizzed through the last room, illustrating how living creatures function. If ever I have to spend another wet day in Toulouse, I know where I shall head!