“My parents loved the Musée Dauphinois,” a friend told me. “It was the best one of all.”
Intrigued, I decided to go. As usual, I had nothing to lose – the museum was free for those under 25. It was farther than I expected, not being a fan of climbing the Bastille alone, but I did reach, eventually.
“The ground floor was – um – uninteresting, to say the least,” I’ve written in my diary.
The museums I had seen before, right there in Isère, were much better. All the Musée Dauphinois had was general information about the history of humankind, without even the audio guide that was available at the Musée de l’Ancien Évêché, a museum I quite enjoyed.
What that meant was that I had gone all the way there, climbing up towards the Bastille, to see sharpened stones.
The first floor was not much better. I could not understand what had earned such high praise – until I got to the second floor.
The decor was spectacular. The whole place was wooden, and designed to recreate life in the Alps. The museum brought to life how it would be to share your space with your animals because if you did not snuggle up to them for warmth, you would freeze.
Move on and you can see a field of animals on a summer’s day, people working in the lighted background, the sound of sawing … And explanations in English as well as in French.
The next floor was just as lovely, with the history of skiing and its development from necessity to luxury, sport and amusement. The floor and walls were almost blindingly white, and the air-conditioning colder than usual, just to make your skin tingle as you examined snowshoes and skis.
There lay the beauty of the museum – in how perfectly ordinary histories were presented in a way that seemed exciting. The Musée Dauphinois does not have the overpowering sense of history and cultural wealth that a museum like the Louvre has, but despite that, the experience is so rewarding, all because of that little effort that was put into its presentation!