Explore the museum in France that celebrates the arts and bell-making

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The bell. It can be seen as a very simple instrument. But the simplicity can also surprise and the European Museum of Campanaire Art of L’Isle-Jourdain in the Gers, proves it.

Art Campanaireis the creation of the bells; the how, why, what and where. But it’s more than that. It is about sound, purpose and communication.

“We are the only museum in France and in Europe to present an exhibition of bells and various sound objects,” explains Bruno Delfino, museum guide.

Divided into seven zones, it has a rich and historic collection of bells with over 1000 objects, ranging from a tiny hanging bell weighing 6g to a foundry mixer weighing 2.6 tons and everything in between.

The Bastille carillonis one of the main attractions. When the Bastille was taken by storm, the dial was destroyed but a watchmaker in charge of maintenance managed to save the clock and its bells.

“A lot of people don’t know it’s here. For some, it’s a surprise, ”explained Mr. Delfino.

It was in a foundry in Normandy before being sold on numerous occasions. Then it appeared in a restaurant in Paris before being auctioned and resold until it was finally bought by the city of L’Isle-Jourdain and placed in the museum. It is now classified as a Historic Monument.

The museum wishes to demonstrate that if the term ‘art campanaireUsually focused on the church bell and carillon, the bell is classified as an idiophone and is a tool that has been used for centuries to perform a whole range of specific functions, taking on many different shapes and forms.

The collection of the European Museum of Campanar Art celebrates the arts and the making of bells | Photo: Campanaire Art Museum

Whether it’s a rattle, clock, animal bell or beach drum. A gong, a carillon, a jewel or a bell, their job is to unite or dissuade.

The Monumental watchmaking This section brings us to what Mr. Delfino calls the “second surprise”.

An automaton clock made by the watchmaker Chenet-Blondin in 1860, with all the sound of the bell. This intricate machine decorates its display case and even indicates the phases of the moon, the time in France and 21 other places around the world, the date and more.

He said, “Every morning and every evening we finish it. We are closed on Sundays and Mondays but during the week it never stops… never. It is an attraction for adults and children.

It doesn’t disappoint.

Celebrate ‘art campanaire‘since 1980

The concept of creating a museum to celebrate all things’art campanairehe began in 1980 when Mr. Alain Jouffray and a team of researchers worked to meet sound objects and various documents.

On the occasion of donations and loans, the idea of ​​setting up an exhibition to celebrate the pieces was born. On January 23, 1983, the new carillon of the Collegiate Church (nine bells) was inaugurated and the exhibition “Discovering the carillons of Midi Pyrénées” was inaugurated.

It was a huge success and the decision was taken to create a permanent European Museum of Campanar Art in the original grain hall.

L’Isle-Jourdain is well known for its campanological tradition – in particular its small one-octave chimes and its wooden “steeples” or “under-replay”(More on them later) – making this the obvious location for the museum.

“We have all the objects thanks to the IEAC (European Institute of Campanar Art)”, adds Mr. Delfino.

It is believed that the bell was created as soon as man had fire and could make clay. The earliest metal bells date back to the Bronze Age, and 5th century records describe monks as bell founders. The bells are also mentioned in the Bible.

In the 16th century, the automatic ringing of bells was introduced and “dictated” the life of the city, in particular to ring “working time”. Religion and prayer were no longer the priority.

These days, it can be confusing to even consider a clock without a dial, let alone a time when the time would usually be indicated by the ringing of a bell.

Later, depending on whether it was wartime or peacetime, that would determine how the material was best served – like a bell, cannon, or coin.

In 1791, a decree ordered the removal of bells for their bronze to make coins. Three years later, another decree ordered that only one bell remained per steeple to ensure that the metal was used to make weapons. The only bell was to remain as an alarm system.

European Campanar Art

The museum houses bells from around the world | Photo: Museum of Campanaire Art

It is estimated that over 30,000 bells were cast during this period, and more would be destroyed during wars.

More recently, stories of locals (and tourists) wanting to end the ringing of the bell in their village or town have been in the news more than once.

Unfortunately, over time, many traditions and rituals have either been toned down or gone completely.

“For twenty years, the French adjective equivalent to English” campanological “has been absent from the dictionary”

One of them is “bell art”. So much so that for twenty years, the French adjective equivalent to English “campanological” has been absent from the dictionary.

Knowing this, it is heartwarming to see other visitors enjoying the museum collection and making lots of wonderful sounds and playing music.

Arrival at the 23 bells carillon Mr Delfino said: “It is a musical instrument in France. I love playing the Harry Potter soundtrack … with the bells, it’s very, very Hogwarts.

Provided by the Fondation des Pays de France, the carillon is an instrument made up of two parts. An upper part used by the carillonneur to practice without others knowing he was learning, and the lower section which has the keyboard made of wooden sticks and pedals.

In every section of the museum there are bells and objects of all shapes and sizes. Many celebrate rituals and cultures from around the world including Africa, Vietnam, Luristan, Egypt, China and more. All made from a variety of materials such as wood, bronze, ivory and even gold, decorated with beautiful and intricate designs.

An impressive African mask and accessories adorned with bells testify to the diversity of the museum’s collection. “With the hands and the body, it’s an expression of music,” continued Mr. Delfino.

Admire huge instruments, including a traditional gong, a wooden slit gong, and a huge drum pie.

Mr Delfino said: “When we visit museums we are told not to touch. Here we can. You can play the gong.

In the Cowbells (cow bell), culture once again plays a big role in the history of the bell, especially since animals have always been an extension of human traditions. An animal’s bells can shed light on its origin and, along with its accessories, can help identify it with the animal and the date of the bell.

Donations and loans complete the collection, for example the museum bequeathed around 150 under-replay of the Meroc family. “He represents the museum. It is our symbol because it is from here ”,

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