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Pop-up museum of everyday objects traces history of French town

Residents of Pluvigner, Brittany donated old farm or household items for the ‘emotional’ display of how life used to be

(Clockwise from left) School memories - Baignol & Farjon pens, a catapult and a very old tub of cough drops; Minitel; rotary dial phone Pic: Pluvigner-Patrimoines

One town is taking people on a journey through time with an exhibition of everyday objects from the past, lent to it by local residents.

Items include a Minitel computer terminal, a weaving loom and traditional curling irons.

Everyday objects from past

The town of Pluvigner in Brittany has amassed around 350 objects, most of which date back to the 1930s or ‘40s, while others were used as recently as the 1970s. 

Most are ordinary objects which could once be found on the farm, at the office, or in the kitchen.

Read more: French farmhouse renovation unearths tools that tell everyday history

Emotional memories

“We’ve been surprised at how emotional people are to rediscover things from the past,” said Jean-Pierre Mompelier, of Pluvigner-Patrimoines, the association which runs the pop-up museum where the objects are displayed. 

“It takes them back to their childhoods, to grandparents who are no longer here.

“I was talking to a woman, and all of a sudden tears started to appear. Memories were coming back to her.”

Some objects are a mystery

For others, it is a chance to discover old technology for the first time, like the young girl who picked up a rotary dial phone and instinctively tried pushing the numbers.

Some objects remain a mystery even to the organisers. 

“We’re still not sure how the tool for attaching oxen to the plough is supposed to work,” Mr Mompelier said.

When France 3 visited, they discovered a strange pair of metre-long tongs. 

It was only once the news report was broadcast that somebody in eastern France wrote a letter to the museum explaining they were used to move logs around in hearths, which were once much larger than they are now.

The pop-up museum opened on June 26 and will welcome visitors every Thursday and Saturday until September 18.

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