The local and regional council here, like all the councils in places I have lived, send regular publications detailing the sterling work they are doing delivering newer and better services at such value for money. They are usually perused and then tossed into the recycling.
On my way to somewhere I work most often I pass the offices of the regional council, Region Alsace. They often have a banner outside detailing an exhibition taking place there, I think it would be good to see that but then do nothing further.
In their publication at the end of 2009 the regional council had a colour picture of some women by a canalised river talking whilst doing their washing. They are next to a house which has a woman standing in the door, there are other houses in the background and on the right of the picture you can just see the rail of a bridge over the river. I don’t know why but the picture just intrigued me and I had to see more. I cut it out and stuck it into my notebook with details of where it could be seen, Maison de la Region, and when, 21st December – 30th January.
On Friday I finished my work at 9:30, people are slow coming back to work after Christmas and the New Year – it will almost be time for the February skiing holidays, and as I was close to the Maison de la Region I went to the exhibition l’Alsace d’Albert Kahn. He was a child of Alsace whose family lived outside the region after it became part of Germany in 1871. He went to work in a bank in Paris and ended up very rich with his own bank. He lost all his money in the ‘crisis’ of 1929 and died in 1940. In 1908 he decided to create ‘The Archives of the Planet’ which included more than 72,000 colour photographs, taken using the method “autochrome Lumiere,” and around 100 hours of film showing the World as it was at the start of the 20th Century. The exhibition contained pictures of Alsace from the collection and included pictures of:
- the First World War,
- celebrations at the end of the First World War,
- villages, houses, landscapes and transport of the time, and
- portraits of people in costume.
The pictures of flags , French and American, in the deserted Rue des Juifs after the liberation of Strasbourg is striking and the pictures of people in their costumes are an education, for example the two included here are wearing traditional costume and the red skirt shows the wearer is Catholic whilst the green skirt is worn by a Protestant.
Albert Kahn also planted a garden in the Hauts-de-Seine departement which is run by the Conseil general for the departement where there is also a museum. At the end of the display there was a book, also called ‘L’Asace d’Albert Kahn‘ (following which link will also take you to the two pictures mentioned above but not shown here.) and I had been so enchanted by the exhibition that I went out and bought a copy on my way home. Go see the exhibition and buy the book.