St Louis is fortunately one of the cities in the USA to host a special traveling exhibition on Napoleon Bonaparte; fortunately, because it’s close enough for us to easily visit. “The Treasures of Napoleon” is at the Missouri History Museum, on the edge of Forest Park, and will run until April 3, 2011.
For a review and lots of information see the link below:
wonderful collection is a slice of French history. The exhibition has been described as a spectacular success and it’s easy to understand why. We went early in March and were fascinated. It showcases the collection of Pierre-Jean Chalencon, a First Empire expert. What’s amazing is that one person ended up with such a collection anyway, and that now all the items are together in one place. In 12 galleries we see more than 250 objects that include paintings, personal belongings, furniture, clothing, documents, prints. The collection is arranged chronologically and successfully tells the life story of this incredible historical figure, from his school days to his death. We get an idea of the pomp and ceremony of the various court occasions—with his favorite symbols, the eagle and bees—and of the intrigue that went on among his ministers and advisors. What also comes through very clearly is that Napoleon was extremely intelligent, and a brilliant military strategist, and that he achieved many great things for France, notably with the code of law and in the educational field.
The aim of the exhibition is to allow visitors to see beyond the “legend” of Napoleon to gain an impression of this complex figure as a man. We felt that it succeeds admirably, partly because there is so much material and so many information boards, but also because there are many small personal touches, such as notes he made in the margin of the palace account book, letters he wrote, and his last will. Our daughter said, “one of my favorite pieces was one of his personal ‘doodles’—I can just imagine him bored at a meeting, doodling away. I makes him more human!” We also learn about his family relationships—how he was close to his two step-children (by Josephine) until the end of his life, how sad he was to divorce Josephine in order to remarry to try for an heir, how he interacted with his siblings.
Napoleon’s legacy continues, and this exhibition has visitors discussing that with animation—one sign of a successful exhibition.