Situated on the confluence of the Rhone and the Saône, the Musée des Confluences is an absolute must-see in Lyon. Set in the heart of a monumental structure of metal and glass, the Musée des Confluences presents a journey through time and across continents to observe the world around us.
The permanent exhibition trail
Unmissable in Lyon, the musée des Confluences tells the story of mankind and the history of life. Unprecedented in the world of European museums, it sets up a dialogue between all the sciences to better understand the world.
Origins, the stories of the World
All of us on the planet share the same questions on the origin of the world and our place in it. Numerous narratives from Inuit, Aboriginal and Chinese cultures and the indianised civilizations of Asia deliver interpretations of the beginning of the Universe, life and humanity. Alongside this science does not cease to take an interest. The exhibition invites us to go back in time to the Big Bang along a trail that suggests two approaches to explaining the world: one illustrated by natural science and scientific and technical collections and the other illustrated by ethnographical and modern collections.
Species, the network of life
The join between what has been called humanity and animality is a universal preoccupation. The exhibition questions the way in which human beings see the world, are integrated in it and contribute to modifying it. Living beings, human and non-human, weave into the world a network of varied links, a mesh in which everything holds together and corresponds. The trail is naturally structured by this mesh, made up of 27 kilometres of strings. This scenography, all in metaphors, thus makes tangible the asymmetric links that unite the different species of the living world.
Societies, the theatre of mankind
A human being is a migrant who is able to come together with others, stops for a time and forms societies, cultures and civilisations. The exhibition questions these ways of functioning on the basis of three constants, namely organisation, exchange and creation. The scenography creates a novel landscape that arouses curiosity by juxtaposing and dialogue with exhibits stemming from remote cultures and periods.
Eternities, visions of the afterlife
What is the place of death in this day and age when its limits are constantly being pushed back? Unlike other living beings the human being questions himself about the afterlife. Funeral rites express in part the desire to go beyond that inconceivable end. They render acceptable the separation of the living and the dead and afford a different perspective on disappearance. Ceremony, gestures, words, by appeasing and attributing a new place to everyone, contribute to re-establishing a shattered social order.
Situated at the apex of the Lyon peninsula, the musée des Confluences enjoys an exceptional architecture. Like a sign at the south entrance to the Metropolis its audacious structure was designed by the Coop Himmelb(l)au agency. The Cloud, the heart of the museum, houses the 5,000 square metres of permanent and temporary exhibitions. From the top of its 33 metres of glass the Crystal is the monumental hall of the museum. Bathed in light its Gravity Well is the starting point for the visit. The approaches to the museum are fitted out to favour moments of escape and relaxation. Around the water basins walkways lead to the garden which is 24,400 square metres in area. This area of verdure, marked off by the rivers Rhône and Saône, grants access to the apex of the confluence. On the roof of the museum the terrace offers an exceptional panoramic view of Lyon and its surrounding area with the chain of the Alps and Mont Blanc as the culminating peak.
Temporary exhibitions 2016-2017
On level 1 of the museum the spaces devoted to temporary exhibitions extend over an area of 3,500 square metres. These are regularly renewed during the course of each cultural season.
At your feet (until April 30, 2017)
Do you know that your shoes are talkative and say a lot about the person wearing them? To better understand what these objects reveal, the exhibition takes you step by step to discover pairs stemming from every continent, from the 16th to the 21st century, from delicate lotuses for bound feet in China to trainers nowadays.
Female potters of Africa (until April 30, 2017)
The exhibition offers us a journey going out to meet the female potters of West Africa and their products. Eleven European potters made this journey 20 years ago. They brought back pottery, several hours of film, field notes and numerous photographs that the museum still keeps today.
Venenum, un monde empoisonné [Venenum, a poisonous world] (Until January 7, 2018)
Venenum describes the different roles played by poison in history and culture, science and believers, medicine and criminality, but especially the unbelievable ambiguity of these substances that have both a pharmaceutical power that gives them unsuspected medicinal virtues and can also be toxic, leading to death.
Notebooks on the collections (2017|05|16 – 2018|09|02)
After the success of the exhibition Dans la chambre des merveilles [In the House of Wonders], illustrating the birth of the scientific spirit in the curiosity cabinets of the 17th century, the musée des Confluences continues this long history and goes back to the sources of its collections. Enter our storage areas!
The invention of the cinema (2017|06|20 – 2018|02|25)
To celebrate the creativity of the Lumière brothers, the Institut Lumière and the musée des Confluences embark you on the adventurous industry of the Lumière family of Lyon, from the invention of the cinematograph to its heritage in modern cinema.
Cultural and scientific rendezvous
A veritable live hub, the musée des Confluences proposes, all through the year, activities for all echoing the permanent and temporary exhibitions. > Link to the agenda
Maps in French, English, Italian, Spanish,German and a booklet for children (aged 7 and up) and parents are available on site.
The digital guide – downloadable from a smartphone. Available from December 2016 in French, Italian and English. Smartphones and headphones available to hire at the museum. Rent price € 1 (+ deposit). Free for secondary-school students from the Rhone.
The pocket-sized museum guide provides further information on the permanent collections. On sale (in French and English) at the museum shop at a price of €15.00
T. +33 (0)4 28 38 12 12
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 11 am – 7 pm
Thursday 11 am – 10 pm
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 10 am – 7 pm
Closed on Mondays and 1 January, 1 May and 25 December