My colleague Julie Steele, editor of The Geek Atlas, suggested I check out the MusÃ©e des arts et mÃ©tiers on my recent trip to Paris. It’s a true Maker’s museum; I really don’t know where to begin. It’s got so much stuff a maker could love:
- A remake of Lavoisier’s laboratory
- LÃ©on Foucault’s apparatus for measuring the speed of light
- Punchcard-driven looms
- Pascal’s adding machine
- and of course, bikes!
There’s a lot more (computers, engines, planes, it keeps going on and on). Check out the museum’s web site and this Flickr set.A brief excerpt from the Geek Atlas, 128 Places Where Science & Technology Come Alive, by John Graham-Cumming:
Britain and Germany may contest the title of best science museum with the London Science Museum and Munich Deutsches Museum (see Chapters 77 and 19, respectively), but France’s MusÃ©e des Arts et MÃ©tiers (Museum of Arts and Trades) boasts of being the oldest (it was founded in 1794), and has a superb collection of devices dating from before 1750 to the present day.
The museum, situated in an 800-year-old priory, has a collection covering scientific instruments, materials, construction, communications, energy, mechanics, and transport.
The scientific instrument collection recounts the history of the creation of the metric system (with the meter, liter, and gram). The meter was to be one ten-millionth of the distance along the meridian from the North Pole to the Equator (running through Paris, of course), and when calculations were made in 1793 the meter was defined (with an error of 5 millimeters; see Chapter 8 for more on the meridian and meter). The gram was the weight of a cubic centimeter of water, and a liter was the volume of a cube with 10-centimeter sides.
Also in the scientific instrument collection is Foucault’s device for measuring the speed of light. In 1862, Foucault measured the speed of light using simple apparatus to estimate the speed of light at 298,000 kps (he was off by less than 1%).