The origin of the collections
The collection of scientific instruments comes from schools in Digne: Petit Séminaire, Sacré Cœur and Collège Gassendi. Dating from the 19th century, the instruments in this very fine collection belong to several fields of study listed as follows: Acoustics, Land Surveying, Heat, Electricity, Electrostatics, Hydrostatics, Magnetism, and Pneumatics. They are didactic instruments.
Trevor Gould, Where the mermaids sing, 2001 – mixed techniques, Coll. Musée Gassendi
The exhibition around the piece by Trevor Gould Where the mermaids sing, with 19th century physics and optics instruments, moves the signification of the science rooms – investigation of the world – towards more contemporary matters such as bioethics and the manipulation of the human gene. The presence of this work radically changes the very meaning of museography. In Trevor Gould’s work, it is the choice of the places for the installation that determines the interpretation of any given figure. All exhibitions propose – and, in certain cases, impose – a point of view of the thing that is shown. In other contexts, this same piece can be seen as a reflection on the meaning of evolution and the genealogy of Man, or else as a work addressing racial discrimination.