In the halls of the Musée Cinema & Miniature in Lyon comes to life the history of cinema that began in 1895 in the same city with the Lumière brothers, inventors of cinematograph. Its spokesperson, Valérie Chaix, unveils the hidden treasures of the museum’s exhibitions in an exclusive interview with MovieTravel.

Why is the Musée Cinéma & Miniature a highly recommended place to visit for movie lovers?

The museum presents the biggest and only collection of its kind in Europe. With more than 500 rare and authentic objects that reveal the magic of cinema, this museum is the place to go if you want to learn more about tricks and techniques used in films before the advent of purely digital filmmaking. The cinema collection also pays tribute to the talent of the studio artists and masters of illusion.

Tell us more about those rare objects.

Film lovers will discover original costumes from Spiderman, Batman or Forest Gump, they also will enjoy having in front of them several animatronics from Gremlins or little monsters from Men in Black. The majestic Alien Queen will be part of the visit together with the triceratops from Jurassic Park and the terrifying doll Chucky. Many masks and prostheses, animatronics, special effect mock-ups will help the film buffs – or not so much film buffs – to explore the secret behind-the-scenes world of cinema’s greatest magicians.

 What makes the museum so special?

The Cinéma & Miniature is so special because it is not only a museum but it is also a living place, a kind of “Cinema Clinic” where Dan Ohlmann and his team restore iconic items from films every day. Film studios, film museums and film directors come here to have their precious objects or props restored after suffering the ravages of times. It can take months to restore latex as it did for the latex of the Alien Queen from Alien vs Predator, time for the technicians’ team to invent the suitable treatment. This restoration policy also allows the rotation of the collections.

Which role does heritage play in the different exhibitions of the museum?

By restoring and exhibiting objects from before digital filmmaking, the museum helps to preserve cinematographic heritage. Regarding the relation with the building and the museum, a Swiss collector who was well known in the world of miniatures offered to help him transform his small previous museum into a world-class attraction. She purchased the famous large building ‘Maison des Avocats’ and the new museum Cinéma & Miniature opened its doors in 2005.

How does the museum keep alive the memory of the Lumière brothers?

Lyon is known as the ‘birthplace of Cinéma’ thanks to the Lumière brothers, pioneers of cinema and inventors of the cinematographe. Dan Ohlmann, as a movie special effects fan considered that the Musée Cinéma & Miniature special effects collection was an appropriate and perfect complement to the Institut Lumière, museum that honors the work of the two inventors.

According to your experience, do cinema and heritage make a strong partnership when it comes to attract tourism?

Yes, clearly and not just for tourism! Many schools and students are now organizing visits based on cinema. A partnership has been established with the Institut Lumière to offer a coupled visit.