Figeac,a town of Champollion and writing
The town of Figeac is home to the Musée Champollion – Les Écritures du Monde, a museum located in the house where Jean-François Champollion was born. Following in the footsteps of the decipherer, the museum invites its visitors on a journey through space and time, into the fabulous history of ancient scripts.
Decipherer of hieroglyphics
Jean-François Champollion was born in Figeac on 23 December 1790.
At the age of 17, he divided his time between the Collège de France and the School of Foreign Languages. He soon began working on the inscription on the Rosetta Stone and dissected hundreds of documents. The knowledge of ancient languages and scripts that he gained as an adolescent and his unparalleled perseverance enabled him to achieve his life’s goal: to decipher the mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Musée Champollion – Les Écritures du Monde, an adventure in writing
The Musée Champollion – Les Écritures du Monde, founded in 1986, was initially dedicated to Champollion and Egyptian civilization. In 2007, the museum branched out and expanded to incorporate the adventure of the writings of the world. Its collections present 5,300 years of history, beginning with the first clay tablets all the way through writing in the digital age. The museum not only takes visitors down the path of Champollion, but also offers them keys to allow them to join in on this great adventure themselves. For example, it questions the place of writing in society through its rich collection of significant pieces, texts, inscribed objects and items relating to the practice and the history of writing, from the main civilizations that used writing.
Place des Écritures “Place of Writing”, outside Champollion’s native home
Created as part of a state commission by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, Joseph Kosuth’s piece Ex Libris J.-F. Champollion (Figeac) was installed in Figeac in 1990, for the bicentennial of the birth of Champollion. Joseph Kosuth, a pioneer in conceptual art and installation art, laid an immense slab of black granite on the ground, reproducing the decree issued in honour of Pharaoh Ptolemy V Epiphanes in 196 BC. Visitors can read its translation, engraved on a sheet of glass and almost hidden in a nook of the square, like the path to knowledge taken by Champollion. It is overlooked by terraced gardens where papyrus, tamarisk and aromatic herbs grow, recalling our decipherer’s beloved Egypt. Arranged in this way, this text provides a strange space for the meaning of words and language, as proposed in Joseph Kosuth’s piece.
Place of Writing