Monday, November 23, 2009

Napoleon Exhibition at MUZEO

So says a petite man with a thick French accent in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Shamelessly, I love this movie and am adding it to my Christmas list because who doesn't love a museum that comes to life, sports Hank Azaria who doubles as a fictitious Egyptian pharaoh and the voice of Abe Lincoln, casts SNL's Bill Hader as a doofy version of General Custer and walks us into the 'kissing sailor' photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt? Oh, and did I mention the heated, power-hungry triangle of Napoleon, Ivan the Terrible and Al Capone? Today Napoleon Bonaparte is the man of the hour and although he bestowed upon himself the highest of praises by crowning himself Emperor, I will indulge his soapbox a bit further.

This past weekend I shared the joy of discovery with a dear friend and Gazette writer, Lisa Birle, at MUZEO, a young Anaheim museum. We toured an exhibition titled "Treasures of Napoleon," which chronicles his incredible life and history. The show had everything from his favorite game (lotto) to the foot pillow used during his coronation ceremony. It even featured a lock of his hair and the quill pen that he used to draft his will.

Wasn't he handsome in his younger, lesser war-torn years? At this exhibit I learned that Napoleon was a master at using propaganda to further his image, an admirer of George Washington, and a fond supporter of the arts and education; his invasion in Egypt brought artists, scientists and writers to study the ancient culture, and his soldiers discovered the Rosetta Stone - the key to decoding hieroglyphics! Unbelievable! Did you know that he even changed his birth name from Napolione di Buonaparte to the French version we know today? That's like me adding a letter H to the end of my name for emphatic throat sounds! Even the small details of Napoleon's life intrigued me: he enjoyed hour-long hot baths, citrus-scented perfume and preferred watered-down wine with roasted chicken at meals.

The exhibition ends with the creme de la creme: The Emperor's Hat, summer model from 1805. If the man could be distilled down into one simple image, this hat fares him well. I hope that you will soon reserve a weekend to visit the exhibit. It will travel away like a feather in the wind (insert "Forrest Gump Suite" here) on January 8th, 2010.

- Sara
Listening to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody"


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