Friday, April 19, 2013

Two launches

Jacques Cartier in Wax.  His thoughtful pose
seems inspired by the 1839 portrait by
François Risse (made famous by Théophile
Hamel).  Photo: Grévin Montréal.
Two noteworthy launches have occured this week.  The Grévin Montréal wax museum has finally opened its doors.   As I announced in an earlier post, a handful of historical characters have wrestled their way into halls otherwise filled with contemporary international and Québécois celebrities.  The museum's new website offers, along with the photo of our friend to the left, a glimpse of the spirit in which New France is evoked : "Les grands noms qui ont fait notre Histoire se succèdent et se croisent au cœur d’une mise en scène fascinante. Au cours de votre parcours, vous traverserez le temps entre le 16ème et 18ème siècle, dans la peau d’un explorateur partant à la conquête de la 'Nouvelle-France'. Jacques Cartier, navigateur français, vous accueille à bord de son bateau pour votre expédition. C’est parti pour la découverte la Nouvelle-France !"  A bit, ehm, waxy...  I'm all the more curious to see how they will have tackled those "representatives of First Nations" which they were promising a while back.

In more scholarly news, the new Digital Public Library of America touts itself as both a portal, which gives users the opportunity to search the aggregated collections of a great many partner institutions, and a platform, which will enable "new and transformative uses of our digitized cultural heritage". While insufficiently tech savy to fully appreciate the latter feature, I was quick to try the search engine.  Self-interested keywords such as "New France", "Nouvelle-France", "French colonial", etc., turn up the usual suspects of internet archives (Thwaites' edition of the Jesuit Relations, Parkman, and so forth), but also a respectable selection of maps (most courtesy of the David Rumsey collection), a couple of French-Canadian classics sung by the Université de Moncton's choir, and some interesting iconography from the archives of the Illinois Historical Society.   Slim pickings, overall, but it's a start.  It'll be fun to see the selection grow as other institutions join the project.


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