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12/11/2009 - par Mark Tungate (tungateinparis@hotmail.com)

I think it was Jean-Paul Gaultier who commented that, in a digital world, a live event is one of the last great luxuries. He was referring to fashion shows, but he could just as easily have been talking about museums – which explains why the two very different exhibitions I visited this week, one about Istanbul and the other about Miles Davis, were both packed.
In terms of pure facts, there was little one could learn from these events that could not have been gleaned from the Internet. But the experience was by no means the same. The staging of museum shows is growing increasingly sophisticated. At the Istanbul exhibition (at the Grand Palais), the city's decorative domes were projected on a dome-shaped false ceiling. Lighting effects replicated the city's silver waters and ancient stones. And the Miles Davis show (at the Cité de la musique) featured a host of film and audio clips.
But the physical aspects were the most thrilling. I'd often read about the giant chain that protected the Golden Horn from marauding Ottomans. And now here it was, a section of it as thick as a man's arm. Nearby stood a giant cannon. Its shape was reproduced in miniature at the Miles Davis show – in the form of the great man's trumpet. The Web is great, but the tangible is the coolest of all.

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