“As surprising as it may appear to somebody looking up without reflecting too much on it, some stones do indeed fall from the sky. Crashing down with an immense light, they are not sent by the Gods but originate from solid bodies in the solar system: asteroids and comets, planets and satellites.

Ever since the extraterrestrial origin of these stones was definitely accepted, human beings have not ceased to search for more of them. They look out for any unexpected fall, they survey deserts and turn cameras towards the sky. As stones unlike any other, meteorites are now preserved in museums, constituting records of our most distant past. They enable scientists to retrace the different stages of planetary construction. 

This temporary exhibition - the first to have been dedicated to meteorites in the past twenty years -, presents the multifaceted nature of these otherworldly stones. Firstly, it shows the Muséum’s meteorite collection, one of the richest in the world. It addresses the significant, scientific research advances which have been made possible by the increasing number of specimens, the development of strong ties with astrophysicists and the multiplication of space exploration missions. It also provides reassurance regarding the potential risks of a cosmic catastrophe.

In addition to this scientific and heritage dimension, we also wanted to provide a prominent space for the myths and legends attached to meteorites. How were they perceived by humans during antiquity? Why wasn’t it until the 18th century that they became scientific objects in their own right? With what kind of supernatural power did ancient Egyptians endow their weapons made from celestial iron?

Finally, we wanted meteorites to remain dream stones. Throughout a poetic scenography, ten artworks, which are closely connected to meteorites, are exhibited. They offer another perspective on these other stones. Thus, guided by the trouble triggered by art and poetry and armed with the stick of science, we gradually create, stone after stone, word after word, a new light that is both fragile and precious: that of knowledge that is rich in its mystery.”

Matthieu Gounelle
Curator of the exhibition Meteorites, from sky to earth