The city of Lyon, capital of the south-eastern Rhone-Alpes region, is France’s second largest city. There are supposed to be over 30 museums, each exploring all aspects of the cultural and historical diversity of this great city. Once an important Roman capital, today Lyon is renowned for its history, architecture, culture and gourmet restaurants.
Lyon is also said to have been the ‘Capital of the Resistance’ during the occupation of France. Subsequently, the city was keen to create a heritage centre that would accurately and sensitively convey its role during one of the darkest periods of this country’s history. The MusÃ©e de la RÃ©sistance, also called the Centre d’Histoire de la RÃ©sistance et de la DÃ©portation, commemorates French resistance to Nazi occupation, in which Lyon played a central role.
The citing of this museum is both ironic and symbolic. The museum is currently housed in a building that was once the School of Military Health. And, it was here that the Gestapo had their local headquarters and where the head of the Lyon Gestapo, Klaus Barbie, carried out his ruthless acts. But this is more than just another ‘remembrance museum’. The museum is not overly intense and harrowing, but through its permanent exhibition (that makes use of some state of the art museological techniques), as well as a programme of interesting and revealing temporary exhibitions, this museum successfully recounts a story with sensitivity and passion.
The captions in the museum are in both English and French, but I would recommend English speakers to take the audio guides as the English captions are not as comprehensive as the French ones. For anyone with the slightest interest in World War II history, this museum should not be missed. The displays are interactive and seem to hold attention of people of all ages, so it is also a great experience for school children covering this period in their history lessons.
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