This morning we walked to the Musée des Arts et Métiers. Diane and I had been there on a previous trip to Paris, and I remembered it as interesting but not a place that begged for a return visit. Rick Steves doesn’t even mention it in his “France” book. So I expected we’d spend an hour or two there and then take the Metro out to the Musée Marmottan Monet and spend a lovely hour with Monet and the Impressionists.
Reader, I was wrong; we spent more than six hours at the Musée des Arts et Métiers! Getting the audioguides made the visit much more enjoyable and informative (my ability to decode simple written French only goes so far!), and having two other engineers along with us meant slowing down and absorbing instead of zipping through.
I only took a few photos; mostly, I was enjoying learning about technological developments with a French accent (the audioguide was narrated in impeccable British English).
There were lots of displays of calculators. I only photographed this one, though I meant to take a picture of the Curta Calculator that we saw a few hours later.
Many of the instruments and tools were beautiful, like this Celestial Sphere.
You probably know that the metric system (SI) was created by the French National Assembly during the Revolutionary period; I’d forgotten that they also tried to decimalize time (10 hours per day, 100 minutes per hour, 100 seconds per minute). It was not a successful innovation (much like the Swatch “beat”), but here’s a clock that kept both kinds of time.
I’d never seen an IBM Stretch (7030) before this visit.
And the last piece of tech I took a photo of, many hours later, was another failure: Clement Aden’s “Avion-3”, a powered heavier-than-air airplane that he gave up on during the late 1890s.
We came back to the apartment and several of us took naps – it had been an intense day.
We’re going to try to go to the Marmottan tomorrow. First.