Jean Paul Favand
« Laughter is not taken seriously »
Jean Paul Favand
« Laughter is not taken seriously »
The history of the Pavillons de Bercy-Musée des Arts Forains is closely linked to its creator’s life, Jean Paul Favand , a collector of items in the performing and fairground arts, as well as an exhibition designer.
The Musée des Arts Forains was first established in Gentilly (1), then moved to the 15th arrondissement of Paris (2) and finally settled in 1996 in an ancient wine storage facility in Bercy, the “Chais Lheureux”. (3)
In the 19th century, the Bercy neighbourhood was known as a festive area. The Joyeux-Bercy, which was at the time beyond the borders of Paris, benefited from the privilege of tax removal on wine. Naturally, “guinguettes” were established there, along with the main wine traders. Wine was thus actively sold and drunk.History of Bercy
Now called Pavillons de Bercy, the site brings back to life past festivities by being a lively place full of memories of the most traditional performing arts. It welcomes over 300 000 visitors every year for evening events, guided tours and special openings (for example for the Festival du Merveilleux).
With its documentation centre and restoration workshops, the museum is a place of discoveries and preservation. Thanks to cutting-edge technologies, Jean Paul Favand is able to both restore and stage his prized objects here.
His artistic approach and his interest for curiosities led him to meet many artists. For instance, he interacted with surrealists such as Dali, providing him with objects for his museum in Figueres, and became among other well acquainted with Doisneau and César.
As his collection was constantly growing, it became of utmost importance to restore and properly store his authentic “objets d’art”. Thus the idea of a commemorative site for amusement artefacts bloomed, in order to keep his collection alive and preserve it for the future.
Using his experience in designing over fifty interactive exhibitions and creating a themed “bistrot” (bar) called the Tribulum, Jean Paul Favand gave birth to an innovating museography and created a lively museum.
This entertaining museum is different from traditional cultural institutions. It’s a bit disconcerting to discover a museum without labels or display cases where it is possible for the visitors to touch the pieces of art which are staged around them.A new kind of museum
In order to make these objects accessible to guests and to create a dialogue with the public, each item in the museum has been carefully selected among thousands in storage. After choosing the pieces, Jean Paul Favand worked meticulously on positioning and staging them, using lighting effect to even further reveal their evocative power to the visitors.
To fully comprehend the very special nature of the place, visitors must participate on a guided tour so that they can be fully immersed in each whimsical scene. During the tours, the visitors also participate in the scenes in each room, becoming actors as they enter through theater curtains. Each carousel presents a different scenario. For example, in the Venitian rooms, our visitors become mechanical dolls on a gondola ride inside a music box.
It is this interaction between the amusement artifacts and the visitors that makes Musée des Arts Forains such a lively and entertaining museum.
Just like the 1900s showmen who used techniques created during the Industrial Revolution, Jean Paul Favand is turned toward the future using the latest technological innovations to give life to his objects.
« Here, the past meets the future, which enables me to tame the modern technologies I use in my object-staging approach » Jean Paul Favand
Now, thanks to video projectors and multimedia shows, magic lanterns, Robertson’s phantasmagorias, and mechanical fairground theatres can come back to life.
Even though digital technologies offer many possibilities, they’re only one of the tools used by Jean Paul Favand, whose scenography has mainly traditional theatrical roots.The approach of digital creation
19th-century funfairs were a social phenomenon, as important as cathedrals in the preceding centuries and television today. The fairground was the cradle of most modern forms of entertainment: theatres, music hall shows, hawkers, sports, illusionists, acrobats, jugglers, puppeteers, and many more.A short history of Fairground Arts
During the Belle Époque, visitors came to be entertained but also to learn and discover. Through mechanical theatres, wax museums, cinemas, and scientific demonstrations, funfairs popularised innovations and technology.Fairground and science : Showmen as science popularisers
Although fairground arts were belittled for many years as “popular” art, they are now recognized as decorative art thanks to the quality and diversity of their ornaments. The past craftsmen are now considered artists. They hold workshops with students, and catalogues have been printed and exhibitions organized to present their work.A decorative art in its own right
The merry-go-rounds and booths preserved by the Pavillons de Bercy are the evidence of a vast heritage. The display of these magnificient pieces of art brings back an atmosphere similar to 19th century funfairs.The merry-go-rounds, booths and showfronts: an overview of fairground heritage