“Forget, for a moment, your phone and its camera”, suggests a sign at the entrance to the exhibition. This is the sine qua non condition for enjoying the visit: accepting to leave the hustle and bustle of the city, to leave behind daily concerns to indulge in a meditative experience: the contemplation of nature on giant screens. In the basement of the National Museum of Natural History, past the heavy opaque curtains, we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of Lake Magadi, in Kenya, where hundreds of lesser flamingos stop over during their migration.
Sight, hearing and smell
Life-size waders glide over the water mirror with their strange gait. They growl and quack like geese in an indescribable hubbub before taking flight with a rustle of wings. The following “capsule” plunges us into darkness: this time we are near a body of water in the African savannah. Predators are on the prowl and the youngest children are worried when they hear cries and roars rising, while a smell of mud and wild animals seizes their nostrils.
As its name suggests, the“Sensory Odyssey” solicits sight but also hearing and smell: the scent of tropical flowers in a Guyanese forest, the smell of peat and mushrooms during an exploration of the subsoil in the company of moles and ants, the smell of cut grass to accompany insects that prance in close-up… Each space is devoted to a different ecosystem, from the Arctic ice floe to coral reefs, on which a final educational room provides some keys to understanding.
beauty and strangeness
Nothing connects these environments except the beauty and the strangeness of nature. Some parents will find the scientific statement a bit short. Children, on the other hand, love these immersive shows that appeal more to emotion than to intelligence. Nothing prevents you from continuing with a workshop or a visit to the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution where, as a sign of the times, the classic collections now rub shoulders with a “virtual reality cabinet” and augmented reality devices.