Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour L'intelligence de la main - Parcours - 2017
Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour l'intelligence de la main – Parcours 2017 has been awarded to MOPO (Maison de l’outil et de la pensée ouvrière) in Troyes.
“Le Louvre de l’ouvrier” or “the worker’s Louvre” is how Christophe Cheutin likes to define this institution, which was created in 1974 by Les Compagnons du Devoir and Father Paul Feller with the support of the Troyes town and departmental councils, in the sumptuous Hôtel de Mauroy in Troyes. It is true that MOPO also houses a collection that is one of a kind. In all, more than 10,000 tools from every region of France and a library of some 32,000 books, including a 1572 Vitruvius, a first edition of the Diderot and d’Almerbert Encycolpédie, and manuals containing forgotten techniques, like the ladle soldering used by Versailles fountain makers. Continually enriched and presented with remarkable museography, this collection offers a comprehensive overview of 60 or so crafts: stone cutting, coppersmithing, basket making, sand casting, and more.
In this way, MOPO reveals the incredible handing down of skills, from their earliest days on Middle-Age building sites to today, while also delivering a unique view of the very nature of craftwork.
“More than an expert hand, the craft worker brings intelligence and sensitivity,” explained Christophe Cheutin. This conception drives the work of the institution, inviting the public to wonder about the person behind a tool before thinking about its function. It reveals the meaning of the craft workers’ movements: the pursuit of a job well done, the beauty of the finished product, the primacy of the human thoughts that direct the hand to transform a material.
As they pass through the rooms housing more than 65 display cabinets, along with sound and video exhibits, MOPO visitors can appreciate the rich creativity of these occupations, their history and their culture. Better still, they can see that crafts are being continually reinvented, offering more opportunities than ever for the younger generations.
We hunt for the rare pieces that convey the work of the crafts people who have forged them with their hands.
Christophe Cheutin, MOPO Director