One of the perks of being a teacher is school holidays. So last week I took the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) with a friend to see the Napoleon, Revolution to Empire exhibition. I knew little about Napoleon's life but his name brought to my mind a picture of one of the world's most influential leaders.
This exhibition is like an open window providing captivating insight on his life and leadership, as well as his passion for the arts. I learnt about his great military conquests, achievements and his extraordinary influence in France. It also gave me a clear glimpse on French art, culture and life from the 1770s to the 1820s. The exhibition left me with a desire to explore more European culture.
Napoleon Bonaparte was born on the French island of Corsica in 1769. He assumed different roles in his life including a soldier, general and emperor. He became famous during the French Revolution as a military and political leader. The paintings and statues in the exhibition commemorate his wartime service to France, and revere him as one of the greatest military commanders of all time and throughout the world. A painting of Napoleon crossing the Alps on a horse highlights his victory and power. As a result of Napoleon's leadership, Europe underwent a massive political and cultural transformation still evident today.
Chateau de Malmaison
A captivating feature of the exhibition is the Chateau de Malmaison, which is a country house near Paris. It was where Napoleon's wife Joséphine de Beauharnais lived. The photos of the residence and its surroundings boast beauty and character.
Joséphine wanted to make it the most beautiful garden in Europe and did this by bringing flora and fauna from around the world. Napoleon and Josephine took a keen interest in Australia and the South Pacific. Joséphine brought Australian wildlife into her garden including kangaroos, emus and black swans. Animals from other countries included llamas, chamois and ostriches. The images of the residence I saw are still firmly embedded in my memory.
Accessibility for Deaf people
The exhibition provides iPod touch audio guides. A visitor has a choice of using audio only, audio with captions and Auslan with captions. My friend and I are both Deaf so it was a great benefit to have the Auslan with captions guide. The guide is impressive as you can see an Auslan translation for each section of the exhibition and a remarkable depth of information is provided.
The quality of the interpreting is excellent as some of the best interpreters have been chosen to translate the information. We were especially pleased that the guide gave us full access to the entire exhibition. The Australian Communication Exchange (ACE) deserves a standing ovation from the Australian Deaf community for the hard work they did in producing the Auslan with captions guide as this type of accessibility is often lacking in exhibitions.
I encourage people in the Deaf community as well as others to go along to Napoleon, Revolution to Empire. This exhibition must not be missed.
The Napoleon Exhibition is on until 7 October.