"Must do better" is an understatement.
I'll start by saying the objects collected here are, or at least would be, very interesting to me. I love this kind of stuff, but the interpretation and layout is appallingly bad. The very positive reviews here stun me. The only positives I can mention are the temporary exhibit, which is well set out/lit/interpretively signed (I suspect it was designed by an outside body), and the bookshop. The rest is very, very disappointing.
Worst of all is the decorative arts section, which is generally my favourite. This appears to have been laid out 30, 40 or possibly even 50 years ago and not updated since. Extremely dimly lit rooms: I can just about buy the "we need to keep the light low to preserve the objects" message to some extent, but on the staircase where no fragile objects were kept and the light was so low that I could barely see the next step? In a room full of silverware (which was one of the darkest)? No. Ludicrous.
The actual room layout and interpretive signs: some rooms were full of apparently unlabelled objects. Oh hang on, no, there was a haphazard massing of tiny interpretive cards, in minute text, jumbled higgledy-piggledy on a table in the corner. If I leant my full body length over the red cordon to read the ones closest (the others were too far away to be legible), they would say something (in French only) like "Wardrobe, Lyon, 1756." Boring, uninspiring, unhelpful. And which wardrobe? There are two in the room!
Sometimes items would be labelled... but they were on the mantelpiece on the opposite side of a room you couldn't enter (cordoned off at one end) and the lettering was the usual tiny font that you had to read from a couple of inches away to understand it at all.
The textiles section is moderately better: a somewhat more contemporary display style which is more engaging and in part better labelled. One BIG problem is that the large interpretive signs in the first few rooms say something along the lines of "An English translation can be found on the information sheets at the entrance to this room". There are no information sheets. There are not even empty containers which once contained information sheets. Apparently this has been going on since at least June last year (7 months) according to other reviews. I can luckily read French, but if I was one of the many non-French speaking/reading visitors (at least two groups of whom bought tickets just before me) I would be extremely pissed off.
A quarter to a half of the exhibits had no information/interpretive signs whatsoever, and those that did were again in tiny text and along the lines of "Fabric with fruit design, mid-1600s, Spain." Thrilling, not.
What made the experience all the more disappointing was that these objects are genuinely beautiful and interesting, but I cannot engage with them in a meaningful way if I'm given little or no information about them. Surely the people who manage this collection know a little more about the objects in their care? Why not share that information with the general public, especially as you're charging more for entry than any other musée in Lyon? I have to wonder, where does all that money go? Certainly not on maintaining the exhibits!
Oh yes, I almost forgot. For your 10 euros entry fee you do not even get a secure place to leave your coat/bag should you want one, which is a big problem in mid-winter. You can, if you want to take the risk, leave your outer garments hanging on one of the unmonitored clothes racks in the front lobby. Come ON! The Musée des Beaux-arts of Lyon provides a free vestiare where your coats/bags are securely stored, for 7 euros entry. Another small Lyon museum, the Musée Gadagne, provides free lockers at a lower entry fee. Both of those museums have vastly larger collections in a much better maintained condition and with infinitely more useful interpretive signs. AND the lighting is much better, even in the sections of the Musée des Beaux-arts that contain antiquities from 5 to 6 THOUSAND years ago!
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