There are a number of things I always miss about Australia when I’m living in France, though none more so than my rambling family of five younger siblings.
I miss my sixteen year old sister, with whom the nine year age gap never seems to matter. I miss my 20 year old musician brother who’s recently become quite a fabulous grown-up. I miss my adorable 10 year old brother and 8 year old sister, who for reasons unknown are still referred to as “the babies” by the entire household. And I miss my sweet 22 year old brother James, who I thought of when I recently visited the musée des arts et métiers, or the museum of arts and trades.
Even when James was a young child, he was fascinated by gadgets, contraptions and machines. First it was traffic lights, then automatic car washes, then VHS players and then all things trains and steam engines. I’ll never forget his childhood joy when our dad unveiled the refurbished miniature train network, replete with switching tracks, tunnels and hand-painted grazing cows, that he himself had played with as a child. These days, it’s all about cars.
So when I stepped into the transport room on the ground floor of the musée des arts et métiers, I knew I needed to start snapping photos for James. There were original model Ford cars, vintage bicycles and models of steam engines, planes and ships. Hovering above the staircase leading up to the rest of the collection, there was even this wonderful flying contraption:
The musée des arts et métiers is a treasure trove of industrial design and, for want of a better word, gadgetry. Astronomical devices, scales, automatons, music boxes, looms, globes, sewing machines and a darling collection of clocks.
Surprisingly whimsical and charming, the museum is the perfect blend of design and science, technology and artistry, past and future. With a serious dose of gadgetry for the Jameses of the world.