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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Alsatian Museum

Welcome back! In today's blog post, we explore the Alsatian Museum and learn a little about the history of this beautiful region of France.

The first set of pictures I took were those of the typical architecture around Strasbourg. My friend, Marco Barrettara, who just completed his MA Archaeology of Buildings, could probably tell you more about the style, and its influences, all I knew was that it was inspired by German architecture, and that I was interested in both its form and function.

This next photo, and the one thereafter, shows you more details concerning the construction and layout of the house, which interested me the most. As you can see in the first picture, there are two black objects in the model, separated by a wall. The second photo elaborates a little more clearly.

Basically, these homes were built around the furnace, on the left. The furnace was fed with wood through the wall, in the kitchen, and the fire would heat the furnace and cooking stove accordingly. The furnace was made of stone and the heat from the fire kept the living room warm. The smoke from the furnace rose up to a smokehouse upstairs, where meat was smoked, and the heat rising from above the furnace kept the room, located upstairs, warm.

I find this to be a brilliant layout. Simple, efficient, and brings the home together with a spirit of functionality rarely seen in many homes today. Except mine. This caught my eye not only because it is an intelligent layout, but because it reminded me of my family's home. My grandmother recently moved in with my parents and she is sensitive to the "cold", or anything below 25°C. My parents situated her in my sister's old room, directly above the woodstove in the basement. They installed a special vent which can allow the heat to rise into my grandmother's room, and the woodstove itself works to keep the living room warm. An interesting design, whatever the time period.

The next set of pictures revolved a typical "woman's room", in which we see many odd pieces of paraphernalia. 

My mom and I had been working quite hard before I left, trying to make some new clothes for me, and this reminded me of that. On the left, you can see a doll, being held upright, I presume the stand is like a dressmaker's dummy seamstresses use today, and you can see some of the dresses already made in the background. 

Some of my classmates: Alix, Trisha, Chris, José, Vatsala (my flatmate), Jeremy, myself, Monty Ram
The next two include a loom, and a sewing machine of sorts, I thought my mom would be interested in seeing them.

None of the photos were taken with flash photography, as that is prohibited in this museum, so this next one might be difficult to see, but it resembles a china hutch my mom has in our dining room.
The next few photos show off the typical interior architecture of the place. As can be read here, (toward the bottom), the museum is actually two separate buildings joined by a wooden section/walkway. I found it quite enchanting.

The little figurine in the left side of the pictures above is a bell. The metal cord for which runs down to ground level. The main door seen on the far side led to the main office, but also, the wine cellar, which we'll see later.

On the top floor, next to the pictures above, there was a pharmacy, a place wherein medicines were made.

Strasbourg and the surrounding area has a sizable Jewish culture and population. It was interesting seeing how the French, German, and Jewish cultures interacted and influenced each other.

The mannequins in this photo are not only wearing nice dresses, but the bow headdress is actually typical of Alsacian dress at the time, no one else wore this and it signified the area.

The chaps in this photo appearing to be gambling, and yes, that one does seem to own a pet ferret.

They had pocket watches, I have a pocket watch!

This next one reminded me of the brother of my friend Jade. When we were younger, her brother Adam had almost every LEGO set ever made at that time, set up in his room, and we weren't allowed to play with them, touch them, or even go into his room. This room here was full of children's toys, and little model houses and such, and it felt like being a kid again, unable to play with the toys.

And this shelf looks like one my mom made for my sister's room. Starting to wonder if it's simply great minds thinking alike or if my parents are secretly Alsacian.

This next photo features an animal holding a lantern and a(n) halberd. Need I say more?
Now, the animal above was in "La chambre des paysannes" or the peasants's chamber (bedroom). The lighting was really bad in here so I didn't get a lot of pictures, but you may take the virtual tour here! The first room features some old chests, paintings, and part of the furnace mentioned earlier (that bright blue object). Clicking on the bottom reveals the second room, also known as the Stub. The animal seems to not have made it to the virtual tour but it is interesting to note that the bedroom is in an armoire, used to keep the bed warm during the night. Guess people were less picky about claustrophobia back then. More than half our group rested on the bench surrounding the table and sang one of the peasants's songs written on the museum pamphlet.

 This was a close view of a wine press, where the grapes would be dumped around the apparatus, and the hammer came down from up top.
 A closer view.
 I apologize for the quality, but it's tough to get a good picture of a wine cellar without using flash photography. At least, it's tough for an amateur like me.

And this last one showcases some of my fellow colleagues and newly made friends trying to learn an old, Alsacian board game. The museum was a lot of fun and I am really glad to have gone. I am sure it is the first of many European museums visited by me and I look forward to the next one.
While we all split up for the tour, we got together at the end for a group photo
For my next cultural experience, I'm going to go wine and cheese tasting!

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