Force Quit: French Eco-Bureaucrats Unplug Paris's Computer Museum

Force Quit: French Eco-Bureaucrats Unplug Paris's Computer Museum

Last July, Philippe Nieuwbourg, director of the French Musée de l'Informatique (or Computing Museum), received a disturbing letter from his landlord, the French ministry of ecology and development. In it, the ministry stated its intention to "recover the use of these premises for its own needs." The primo location — on the top level of the Grande Arche in the business district La Défense — also held a Video Game Museum, restaurant, and viewing deck. "I kind of have the feeling that they're eliminating the Computing and Video Game Museums so the ministry can have its cocktail parties there," Nieuwbourg said at the time, according to the technology blog


Since then, Nieuwbourg has been on a quixotic quest to make someone in the government pay attention to the plight of his museum, which has been around since April of 2008. He finally obtained a meeting with Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who had just been appointed minister of ecology, sustainable development, transportation, and housing. It was "a little bit of clear gray sky in an ocean of disillusionment," he wrote on the Computing Museum's blog. The minister's office promised to try to find a permanent home for both museums. (Since elevator renovations had already cut off access to the museums for several months, the unfortunate Video Game Museum truly met a premature demise, having been open for a mere two weeks before losing its lease.)


In the meantime, Nieuwbourg has found a creative solution: "Why settle for one museum?" he wrote on his blog. He'll open five to seven museum satellites, with the first one set to open this year at the Sophia Antipolis technology park near Nice. The over 3,000-square-foot space will be open to the public but will be particularly focused on hosting school groups. The museum will have a permanent exhibition on the history of computer technology from the 1890s to today, along with temporary exhibitions on the birth of the Internet and on Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey." He is also hopeful that another satellite location may be established in Vernon in Normandy, alongside another museum project focusing on space travel and rockets.


The top level of the Grande Arche, meanwhile, which previously saw 250,000 visitors annually, remains closed to the public.