This is part of Museum User Guides, a series with ideas for how to “use” museums. The activities suggested here propose a fresh way to understand and experience a particular collection.
Life in Paris can be exhausting. From the agony that is a daily métro commute to the overall grumpiness of people in the streets, from the energy it takes to function in a foreign language to a conspicuous dearth of sunshine… Bref, such a reality necessitates the occasional escape.
So treat your weary self to a mini-retreat at the Musée Zadkine, a quiet oasis in the center of the city. This house and atelier is where the Russian sculptor Ossip Zadkine lived and created from 1928 to 1967. It is nestled in a lush and cozy sculpture garden that echoes the nearby Luxembourg Gardens.
Choose a day with weather that tempts you to spend some time outside and make your way to this modest museum. If you usually carry a heavy bag, try to unburden yourself by only carrying a minimal amount of belongings.
As you visit the six small rooms and the atelier showcasing the collection, focus on your breathing. You don’t need to change it, just notice it.
Sunlight floods in from the large windows, creating dialogues in the galleries between light, wood, and stone. Shadows form on the artworks, and they change as the sun makes its way across the sky. This is a space of interaction and creation. Think about the fusion of these elements. Remember to notice your breathing.
The garden has a presence in the galleries; it is the heart of the Museum. The trees and the sunlight give life to the artworks, all beating in rhythm with the changing seasons. Remember to notice your breathing.
The artworks were crafted by the artist in the same galleries where you are standing now. These rooms were spaces of creation. Are they still? Remember to notice your breathing.
After wandering and pondering in the Museum, take a seat on one of the benches in the garden. Surrounded by nature, a theme on which Zadkine meditated in his artworks, take a quiet moment to breathe. Breathe in, breathe out. Thoughts will come up; and, when they do, notice them without judgment, then gently guide your attention back to your breathing. Breathe in, breathe out.
As you leave the sanctuary of the Museum, diving back into real life, keep your time spent with Zadkine’s organic forms close to your heart. When Paris seems too loud or crowded or dirty or angry, remember that in the midst of that, there can be moments of grace.
And remember to notice your breathing.
Address: 100 bis rue d’Assas 75006 Paris ∣ Métro: Notre-Dame des Champs (line 12) or Vavin (line 4) ∣ Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm