Two forms of exhibition exist: those that favour the relationship to the city – whether it is historical or societal – and those that question Nantes’s relationship to other territories. Often in tandem with major institutions, national (or international) museums, they offer an occasion to reveal objects rarely seen by the public.
Whether using objects obtained via collection drives, or through the museum’s own collections, the “expositions de territoire” return to key moments in the city’s history, and in the local population’s relationship to Nantes. As a result, the public was able to discover Nantaises au travail – about work in the city; Nantais venus d’ailleurs – about foreigners who made Nantes their home; En guerres, 1914-1918 / 1939-1945, Nantes / Saint-Nazaire –about the World Wars; and Rock ! Une histoire nantaise – which examined the history of the local rock scene… to name just a few! With the museum’s acquisition policy, these exhibitions correspond to its singular spirit as an institution that has continually evolved and questioned itself since its creation. They have allowed for new museum rooms to be opened as well as for certain themes to be developed throughout the itinerary.
The curators of certain exhibitions on the relationship between Nantes and the world have been instituted by the museum’s management. This was the case, for example, with La Soie & le Canon FRANCE-CHINE (1700/1860) in 2010, and with Samouraï, 1 000 ans d’histoire du Japon in 2014.
Others were established in partnership with international museums, like: Icônes, trésors de réfugiés, in partnership with the Byzantine and Christian Museum in 2016, Les Esprits, l’Or et le Chaman, in partnership with The Museo del Oro in Colombia in 2017, Nous les appelons Vikings, in collaboration and coproduced with The Swedish History Museum in Stockholm and MuseumsPartner in Austria in 2018.
Since 2007, 26 exhibitions have been opened to the public, 6 of which have been labelled “of national interest” by the French government.
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