It was a rainy morning and Mark had woken up way too early. He was cranky and so were we. The rest of the city was enjoying a quiet Sunday morning with croissants and café au lait and here I was, trying to get Mark to keep his socks on (this month’s new phobia is apparently socks) and brush Petit Écolier crumbs off my last clean pair of jeans.
“Alright, let’s go to the museum,” I decided.
There are several museums in Nantes, including the Jules Verne Museum (scenic location but fairly boring), the Arts Museum (under renovation), the Musée Dobrée (under renovation as well), the Castle Museum (expensive). That left us with my favourite educational hangout: the Musée d’histoire naturelle.
Museums are free on the first Sunday of the month in Nantes, and my dad used to take us to the Natural History Museum regularly when I was a kid. We’d bring a pencil and a notebook and sit there to draw the animals. “Observe, interpret and draw,” my dad would instruct us. Whenever we were sick of erasing the spider’s extra legs, we would wander around.
There was an entire room filled with rocks. Boring, we’d claim. We still loved checking out the gold nugget and other precious stones on display.
There were the impressive elephant and whale skeletons, and an extensive collection of stuffed mammals, birds and reptiles. I found the giant sea spider very scary but I couldn’t help taking a look every single time I walked by.
A room was dedicated to human and animal medical oddities. It was scary, creepy and yet fascinating for us kids. I remember staring at the human skin with the bullet hole close to the heart as well as the shrunken head.
I was planning to avoid these rooms with Mark but I didn’t have to. The museum had been renovated and the “Cabinet of Curiosities” was gone. These days, the museum is more politically correct.
Mark was cranky and he didn’t quite enjoy the atmosphere, but he still liked the vivarium with the venomous snakes from all over the world. When I was a kid, I explained Feng, we loved to tease the most venomous snakes!