For the first time ever in America, cave paintings of Lascaux are being exhibited. Until now, they have only ever been viewed for the public in France, at the Conseil General of Dordogne, but now the state of Illinois will be home to the exhibit, in replica form of course. Given that the cave has been closed to the public since 1963, the only way they can be viewed is in their replica format, which has been copied very accurately. Closing the exhibition was seen as the best way to preserve the ancient masterpieces.
The new traveling exhibit is purposely dimly lit so that visitors can feel as if they are walking through the cave. Standing underneath rugged panels they can imagine how cave dwellers at the time used the stone wall contours to enhance perspective and depth to the images.
It was decided that this exhibit would be seen in other parts of the world, as French Senator and president of the Counseil General of Dordogne, Bernard Cazeau, said that such a “global treasure” cannot be kept from worldwide appreciation and given that many are unable to come to the museum, with the new technology “I thought we could bring Lascaux to the world.”
In 1940, the caves were discovered by four boys who were exploring a deep depression caused by a falling tree near Montignac. Today, they are seen as “the Sistine Chapel of prehistoric art,” being viewed by over a million people before it was closed to the public. It is believed that the paintings are over 17,000 years old and even though they have been studied for close to 70 years, the purpose and meaning of them remain unrevealed.
It is intended that the tour will make stops at Canada, Houston, Montreal and Texas.