From 17 March to 28 June 2020, the Musée des Arts et Métiers will be giving pride of place to contemporary scientific and technical heritage. The exhibition Prototypes, from experimentation to innovation presents to the public nearly thirty precursor objects and instruments. The first experimental models of bipedal robot, neutron trap, artificial heart, Minitel or laser scalpel, these sometimes ephemeral witnesses reveal to visitors all the ingenuity of research " en train de se faire ".
Essential for small and large discoveries, these "first types" of experimentation are often doomed to disappear. Yet they are a crucial source for understanding how scientific research works. Prototypes tell the story behind the scenes of the laboratories; their history raises awareness of the challenges but also of the difficulties and hesitations. By their design, these objects reveal successes, mistakes and failures.
In applied research, prototypes sometimes leave the bench to plunge into the corporate world. The traces they leave then relate all the hazards towards their industrialisation. Both unique and endangered, they are today a precious heritage to be preserved for future generations, or risk an irreversible loss of knowledge. In nearly 20 years, thanks to the national mission to safeguard contemporary scientific and technical heritage (PATSTEC), more than 22,000 various objects or instruments have been identified and saved.
The tour of the exhibition is structured around four main themes: Prototypes in research; The manufacture of scientific instrumentation; The transfer of innovation; The heritage of research.
In each of the four modules, association game devices allow visitors to find the everyday objects to which the prototypes presented correspond. Videos complete the presentation on the objects but also on research in France, the marketing process and laboratory professions.
A booklet game invites children, from 7 years old, to solve riddles to carry out a great scientific project, sending life to Mars, with the help of instruments to be found in the exhibition.
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Around the exhibition, guided tours of the permanent collection on the theme of prototypes are organised on certain weekends. The workshop The Makers? Make your moleculeThis project, designed in collaboration with researchers from the Genomics, Bioinformatics and Molecular Chemistry (GBCM) laboratory at the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, introduces young and old alike to the construction of amino acids and proteins.
A programme of conferences provides expert insights to better understand the history of emblematic prototypes and the challenges of progress.
Finally, for those who wish to delve deeper into the subject, a 160-page catalogue brings together a series of in-depth articles on the four main themes of the exhibition, as well as detailed and expanded records of objects from the contemporary scientific and technical heritage.
Exhibition Prototypes, from experimentation to innovation - Museum of Arts and Crafts - 60 rue Réaumur - 75003 Paris