MONTREAL, QC--(Marketwired - March 26, 2014) - In September 1940, when four teenage boys stumbled upon the Lascaux cave in the south of France, they were met with an extraordinary spectacle. The cave walls were teeming with animal frescoes, painted and engraved with great sophistication by our earliest ancestors nearly 20,000 years ago. Little did the boys know that their discovery would rewrite our knowledge of prehistory.
These exquisite Lascaux cave paintings, in a remarkable state of preservation, would soon be recognized as the world's finest examples of prehistoric art. The cave attracted more than a million visitors between 1948 and 1963, when the French Minister of Culture, author André Malraux, had it closed to the public in order to preserve these masterpieces.
Beginning April 17, visitors to the Montréal Science Centre will be able to share the wonder of discovery experienced by those boys more than 70 years ago. The Centre will present The Cave of Lascaux - Prehistoric Masterpieces, an exhibition on the Lascaux rock paintings and carvings, including a monumental recreation of one section of the cave with life-size replicas of paintings neither seen nor reproduced since its closure in 1963.
After well-received showings at the Field Museum in Chicago and the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the exhibition, organized by the General Council of Dordogne in France, will visit Montreal, its only Canadian venue, until September 14.
A journey of exploration
To present this rich repository of prehistoric art, the exhibition includes five full-scale replicas from two sections of the cave, "The Nave" and "The Well", which have never before been reproduced or shown to the public. The contemplative lighthing display of the works is respectful of the achievement of these Cro-Magnon artists.
In the intimate cave setting, visitors will also encounter a "hyper-real" Cro-Magnon family created by world-renowned sculptor Elisabeth Daynès. The family -- an old man, an adolescent, a woman and a child -- wear clothing and ornaments made from materials available 200 centuries ago. These Cro-Magnons were very different from the typical popular depiction of "cavemen". They were hunter-gatherers who lived in a structured society, and their culture was considerably more refined than most of us imagine.
The Cave of Lascaux - Prehistoric Masterpieces also offers a virtual tour of the entire cave, created with laser mapping and 3D modelling technology. Multimedia presentations reveal the complexities of the works on the cave walls and clarify the skill it took to create them. For example, visitors can decipher the great Black Cow panel and its engravings with the help of an animation that reveals the fresco's underlying complexity, or discover how the Lascaux artists took advantage of the cave's natural relief to create perspective and suggest movement.
Despite 70 years of research and analysis, the precise meaning and function of the Lascaux cave paintings are still an enigma. But these complex artworks are not haphazard. They must have been created for a specific purpose that remains a mystery. The Cave of Lascaux - Prehistoric Masterpieces
invites us to contemplate these early masterpieces in an atmosphere conducive to reflection on the origins of humanity.
The Cave of Lascaux - Prehistoric Masterpieces
A larger-than-life entry into the heart of an otherwise inaccessible prehistoric treasure.
At the Montréal Science Centre starting April 17, 2014.
For more information, visit www.montrealsciencecentre.com or see the official exhibition site at www.lascaux-expo.fr.
For high-resolution photos, use this link:
The Montréal Science Centre wishes to thank its presenting partner, TELUS. The exhibition was created by the General Council of the Dordogne with the support of the Regional Council of Aquitaine, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, and the European Union. The world tour is organized by SPL Lascaux International Exhibition and sponsored by Delpeyrat and Maïsadour. It is presented at the Science Centre in collaboration with Hydro-Québec.
About the Montréal Science Centre
With more than 750,000 visitors annually, the Montréal Science Centre complex is dedicated to science and technology. It is characterized by its accessible, interactive approach and its showcasing of local innovation and know-how.