Household Arts Show
Flying tray, motor washer, instant mash (1923 – 1983)
Mucem, fort Saint-Jean—
Fort Saint-Jean Georges Henri Rivière Building (GHR) 320 m2
From Friday 7 July 2023 to Sunday 8 October 2023
"Flying tray, motor washer, instant mash" – this triad echoes Boris Vian's famous Complainte du progrès (Les Arts ménagers) [Complaint against progress (The Domestic arts)], heard at the 1956 Household Arts Show, in which the poet humorously enumerated the more or less fanciful appliances that invaded everyday life: the slug iron, the atomixer, sheets that heat up... These objects, which really were presented at the event, embodied the spirit of invention and the projection into modernity that defined its brand identity. Between 1923 and 1983, at the crossroads of science, industry and aesthetics, and beyond the commercial event, the Household Arts Show did indeed establish a form of social revolution.
For sixty years, the Household Arts Show welcomed millions of curious visitors who came to discover all the latest in domestic equipment, housing, home comfort, storage and organising. From the outset, the innovations on display were photographed for documentary and advertising purposes: tens of thousands of photos were produced, testifying to the importance of the visual in the construction of an imaginary ideal interior. The whole of society turned up at the event to show and present itself, as well as to make demands, such as the suffragette and feminist Louise Weiss in 1936, who, in the form of a performance, cooked for women to be granted the right to vote.
This "visit" to the Household Arts Show, a great popular festival and spectacle of consumer society in the making, leads to a reflection on our daily practices and the future of our so-called developed societies.
As part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Household Arts Show, this exhibition presents original photographs from the collections of the National Archives of France. These prints are displayed in dialogue with objects, in particular those exhibited by the Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires during the event between 1951 and 1959. This gap between modernity and tradition is thus replayed to illustrate an era when domestic interiors were being transformed in the face of progress, an upheaval that led museum teams to give heritage status to a traditional society that was disappearing.
A few objects marking the technological innovations that changed domestic lifestyle will also be presented. Objects linked to the shows themselves (brochures, admission tickets, catalogues) and caricatures published in the press at the time will help explore the history of the evolution of lifestyles and tastes, and to better appreciate the social issues raised by the Household Arts Show.
This exhibition at the Mucem is an adaptation of the one organised by the National Archives of France from 5 February to 16 July 2022 at its site at Pierrefitte-sur-Seine.