Lyon’s Musée des Confluences is a newly constructed science and anthropology museum located at the site of the confluence of the Saône and Rhone rivers. Massive and ultra-modern, the building is impossible to miss if you drive by on the autoroute or cruise by on the river.
As a structure Musée des Confluences is odd. From the outside it’s hard to get a vantage point that makes the building look like anything other than a jumble of planes and curves with little flow or cohesion. It always seems like you are looking at the back of the building. I couldn’t help feeling that there’s a perfect angle for a picture from the distance but try as I might I could never find a view that did the building justice, if there was justice to be done. It might be that Musée des Confluences is best seen from the air, which wouldn’t be very enjoyable to the numerous people who drive by each day. The deconstructivist architectural style of the building works effortlessly elsewhere, but not so much here.
Up close the museum presents numerous perspectives that are appealingly abstract, but you have to hunt for them. For many buildings a wide-angle lens is the best choice. Musée des Confluences looks its best through a zoom lens.
On the inside the museum spaces are cavernous and impressive. It’s the best part of the museum. The interior is expansive and futuristic. Sinuous suspended walkways wind down through the open areas covered by high glass. Windows rather than walls define the spaces. The outside might be best with a telephoto lens but the inside needs a wide-angle.
The museum’s exhibits are interesting but there’s a sense that it is a work in progress. At this point it’s far from the best science museum around. I imagine that it might improve as exhibits are added. It had only been opened less than three years when we visited
There is one question that remained after the visit to Musée des Confluences: How do they clean the windows? With the convoluted shapes and spaces, window cleaning might well be a spectacle worth watching.