It’s not often that paintings estimated to be 17,300 years old are available to the public to see, but the Houston Museum of Natural Science has brought history to life in their most recent exhibit with the recreation of Scenes from the Stone Age: The Cave Paintings of Lascaux.
Deemed the “Sistine Chapel of Prehistory,” HMNS’s special exhibition features a recreation of the full-size replicas of the paintings. They are the most technically accurate reproductions of the cave paintings ever done. Visitors can walk through a cave-like gallery and discover paintings such as the Great Cow Panel, Swimming Stags Frieze, Crossed Bison Panel and Shaft Scene, which have never before been reproduced.
HMNS’ exhibit will be on display until March 23, 2014. This international exhibition brings together state-of-the-art digital technologies with interactive and hands-on displays including advanced 3D projections, interactive terminals as well as multimedia and a model of the cave.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors and children. HMNS is located at 5555 Hermann Park Drive. Details at www.hmns.org.
HISTORY OF LASCAUX CAVE: The entrance to Lascaux Cave was discovered by 18-year-old Marcel Ravidat. Ravidat then returned to the scene with three friends, Jacques Marsal, Georges Agnel, and Simon Coencas, and entered the cave via a long shaft in September 1940. The cave complex was opened to the public in 1948, and by 1955, the carbon dioxide produced by 1,200 visitors per day had visibly damaged the paintings. In 1963, the cave was closed to the public in order to preserve the art. After the cave was closed, the paintings were restored to their original state and monitored on a daily basis.
Rooms in the cave include The Hall of the Bulls, the Passageway, the Shaft, the Nave, the Apse, and the Chamber of Felines. The images primarily consist of large animals, most of which are known from fossil evidence to have lived in the area at the time. In 1979, Lascaux was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list along with other prehistoric sites in the Vézère valley.
Lascaux II, a replica of two of the cave halls (the Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery) was opened in 1983, 200 meters from the original in France, and reproductions of other Lascaux artwork can be seen at the Centre of Prehistoric Art at Le Thot, France.
Since 1998, fungus invaded the cave. As of 2008, the cave contained black mold which scientists were and still are trying to keep away from the paintings. In January 2008, authorities closed the cave for three months to scientists and preservationists. A single individual was allowed to enter the cave for 20 minutes once a week to monitor climatic conditions. Now only a few scientific experts are allowed to work inside the cave and just for a few days a month but the efforts to remove the mold have taken a toll, leaving dark patches and damaging the pigments on the walls.
See Life Magazine’s coverage with actual pictures from 1947 at http://life.time.com/culture/lascaux-early-color-photos-of-the-famous-ca....
Also visit http://www.lascaux.culture.fr/site_map.php?lng=fr for more details on the original site.