in The beginning, the earth was flat. Today, it can be seen in its fullness of spheres from the sky, and we know that it is no longer the center of the Universe. In an exhibition complex, but very aesthetic, the BNF tells the story of 2500 years of representations of the terrestrial globe.

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The great strength of the commentary is to be chronological and to interweave the history of the sciences, philosophies and geography. It follows century after century, the discoveries and advances about a subject that has not ceased to haunt the human. Nearly 200 objects of science, of art, of power and knowledge come to support the demonstration. It should also push its not in the West wing of the building to be able to admire the most spectacular of these objects: the BnF has two huge globes painted by Corronelli, in 1683, and offered to Louis XIV.

scale Model of a planet that is beginning to control The exposure of The World into Spheres is visible at the BNF until the 21 of July next. BNF

The World into spheres begins with the”invention” of the model spherical. By observing the cycles of the sky, and by intuition, scientist and philosophers stop on the model of a closed world composed of spheres. The earth, of course, is deemed to be immobile. Already, the power is holding it between his hands – an Emperor or king, it will never cease to be dominating the world, whatever it is. The sphere, in its finitude is almost perfect, is always symbolic.

in The Middle Ages, the sciences, astronomical hatch, especially in the arab-muslim world. The christian West will build on it, by reinterpreting. In the Fifteenth century, the Geography of Ptolemy, but also, and especially, the first major conquests imposed the idea of a round earth. We are beginning to see the realization of the first globes, a reduced model of a planet that Europe is beginning to control and the cosmography is a discipline in the Sixteenth.

The “Globe green”, dated 1506, and a presentation by the BnF, is the first to represent the “New World”, which is named already “America”.

Globe says “Globe green”, attributed to Martin Waldseemüller, to 1506. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, department of Maps etplans

Come then, the copernican revolution, Descartes and Newton. It includes the rotation of the Earth around the Sun, universal gravitation.

the Europe of The Enlightenment, that wants to be paid in science and knowledge, will develop a love for globes, including precious. We will see, in this respect, the spectacular globe of Mentelle commissioned by Louis XVI, in 1788, and which was used for the instruction of the dauphin.

Edme Mentelle, Jean Tobie Mercklein, terrestrial Globe and celestial for the education of the dauphin, 1786. image RMN-GP / RMN-GP/photo Agency of the RMN-GP

Since the 1950s, the image of the planet photographed from space has given the earth to its place on the table of the pupils. The fragility of the planet, or even its darkness has now brought artists to other representations, such as that of Thomas Hirschhorn, which closes the exhibition.

Expo BnF : the world of the spheres – Watch on Figaro Live

BnF-site François Mitterrand. Until 21 July 2019.