Stéphanie Lebreton, Director of Collections, Musée Champollion, Figeac, France
Established in the former home of Jean François Champollion, the man who had deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics, the musée Champollion, museum of writing takes the visitor on a journey following Champollion’s footsteps and gives him the opportunity to take part in the adventure of the written word and consider its place in a future world.
Renewed en 2007 by the architects Moatti & Rivières, the building now shows an emblematic dual façade : the medieval stone façade is lined with a second one made of glass and copper sheets cut out with one thousand characters from scripts around the world and designed by Pierre di Sciullo. The installations of the permanent collection in the museum were designed by Pascal Payeur.
This new museum tries to give answer to questions such as How were the first signs written? What were the consequences of this fabulous invention? Are there still writing systems waiting to be deciphered? Documents from around the world, interactive touch pads and the shapes of enigmatic scripts are displayed.
Visitors are confronted with the earliest scripts invented by civilisations around the world. They begin in Mesopotamia to see the first tablets inscribed in cuneiform script with details of administrations and the exchanges. Travelling along the bank of Nile, they discover how the Egyptians have painted, drew and engraved hieroglyphs in order to perpetuate their existence. Chinese script, which is still in use today and Maya glyphs complete the journey.
Archeological artefacts written with alphabets invented around the mediterranean are displayed to prove how a writing system using a limited number of symbols was a true revolution allowing many more people to learn reading and writing. Many books from parchment to ebook are also displayed to show how we have kept our written memory in Europe since the Middle Ages.
This museum tries to encourage the visitor to search for the reasons and signification behind the act of writing.