News from paradise - The holiday postcard

Combining history, ethnology and contemporary art, our new exhibition invites you to discover the postcard in a dazzling double-sided journey. Let yourself be won over by the charm of this erudite, popular and joyful exploration!

  • 06 September 2023, 11:00 - 18 March 2024, 18:00
All audiences
Included in museum entry

Produced in partnership with the National Archives, the Nouvelles du paradis exhibition offers visitors several insights into the holiday postcard (historical, sociological, artistic, etc.) through a luminous scenography inspired by holidays and the photographic codes which are associated with them.


If everyone has a history with postcard, do we really know it? For the first time, the exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to understand the postcard in all its aspects, at all stages of its existence:


1. Visual object: the factory of the tourist gaze

Since the end of the 19th century, the postcard has played a key role in depicting territories. It will become a holiday ritual with the rise of paid leave and mass tourism. Shaping the modern visual imagination of "elsewhere", it participates in the construction of a stereotypical vision of territories via the representation of emblematic monuments, seasides, snow-capped peaks, "typical" characters or "picturesque" scenes.


2. Economic object: the growth of an industry

Subject to increasingly tough competition, postcard publishers, true image entrepreneurs, covet popular tourist sites, constantly amending their collections so that they coincide as closely as possible with the changing tastes of consumers, retouching the need the photos to, for example, add an azure blue sky to the “ideal” viewpoint. At the same time, they are developing new advertising strategies by creating a wide variety of promotional materials, presented here to the public.


3. Object of correspondence: the emergence of a ritual

When the postcard appeared in Europe in the 1870s, revealing in the public sphere correspondence associated with intimacy caused debate. Gradually, its users who evaluate the interest of this inexpensive and illustrated support, adapt and invent new forms of writing, ranging from the simple mark of affection to the writing of the story condensed in a few lines.

Used in correspondence, the postcard acts as a powerful vector of social connection, a practice today supplanted by social networks. The photographic investigation carried out by Irène Jonas, sociologist and photographer, aims to collect the last traces of this social phenomenon which, despite its imminent disappearance, remains a poignant testimony to our history and our culture.


4. Collectible: an unexpected posterity

In addition to contributing to social ties, the postcard is intended to provide documentation for lovers of traditions and distant lands. Better still, it quickly rose to the rank of collector's item, through exchange circuits on a global scale.

The collections of André Laville, Arnold Van Gennep, Albert Hagneaux, Jean-Marie Donat and Francis Laffon presented in the exhibition are all examples of different approaches to collecting, between science, leisure, memories and artistic approach.

The exhibition tour ends with the new holiday story which is perpetuated in the age of social networks through a practice combining text and photos... like yesterday's postcards!