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European Night of Museums: Chance to visit 3,000 French sites for free

Tomorrow night, the public will be able to enjoy special exhibitions and performances 

The European Night of Museums – which involves around 3,000 French institutions – is taking place tomorrow (May 14) Pic: Catarina Belova / Shutterstock

The Nuit européenne des musées (European Night of Museums) takes place tomorrow (May 14) with museums around France staying open late into the night. 

From dusk until around midnight, around 3,000 French museums will be welcoming visitors for free, showcasing their collections through talks and workshops.

Museums will be offering temporary exhibitions, themed guided visits, musical entertainment, lectures, concerts, food tasting, tutorials, historical reconstructions and film projections, to create “a night full of surprises” and attract new visitors. 

In Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, the Musée Frédéric Mistral near Avignon (Vaucluse) will be celebrating the work of this master of Occitan literature with the help of actors singing and reciting his poems. 

The Musée des Merveilles in Tende to the north east of Nice, will be exploring what night was like for people in the Neolithic age. Visitors will move through the traces left by our distant ancestors by candlelight.

At the Musée du Palais Lascaris in Nice, school pupils will be reciting stories they have written surrounding the tale of Venus and Adonis. 

The Musée Mer Marine in Bordeaux, director Rémy Marion will be presenting his award-winning Les Métamorphoses de l’Ours Polaire film, while at the Musée national et Domaine du Château de Pau actors and performers will be conjuring up moments from the time of Molière.

Further north in Brittany, the Musée de Bretagne in Rennes will be offering a Celtic tattooing workshop, where visitors will be able to try out temporary designs. 

At the Musée de la Compagnie des Indes in Morbihan, there will be a ‘murder party’ taking place: the Governor of Pondichéry has just been found dead, and you as visitors will have to help to find out what happened to him.

Or, maybe you would rather take a journey through space and time at Paléospace l’odysée in Calvados (Normandy), exploring the fossils of ancient creatures, and the dinosaurs that once roamed the region. 

A map reflecting all of the events taking place around France, complete with details on any special exhibitions or performances, is available on the culture ministry website. 

The European Night of Museums will also see certain museums reopen for the first time in years. This is the case for the Musée de Cluny in Paris, the Musée de Valenciennes and the Forum antique de Bavay in Nord and the Musée départemental Albert-Khan in Boulogne-Billancourt. 

The first ever Lange Nacht der Museen took place in Berlin in 1997, and the concept was soon taken up by the Council of Europe, Unesco and the International Council of Museums in a bid to promote public access to cultural heritage.

Last year, despite Covid restrictions, 1,200 museums in 120 European cities – as well as locations in Argentina and the Philippines – saw around two million people come to see their collections. 

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