Headed for HMNS

French diplomats open up their River Oaks manse to celebrate cave man life

French diplomats open up their River Oaks manse to celebrate cave men

Bernard Cazeau and Joel Bartsch sign contract Houston Museum of Natural Science cave paintings at Lascaux
French senator Bernard Cazeau and Joel Bartsch, president and CEO of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, sign the contract that will bring Scenes from the Stone Age: The Cave Paintings of Lascaux to Houston. Photo by Whitney Radley

French dignitaries and representatives from the Houston Museum of Natural Science gathered on Tuesday at the River Oaks residence of the Frédéric Bontems, Consul General of France in Houston, for champagne, hors d'oeuvres and the signing of a contract for the museum's next traveling exhibition.

Scenes from the Stone Age: The Cave Paintings of Lascaux will open at HMNS on Oct. 18 to give visitors insight into some of the most famous examples of Upper Paleolithic art that dates back nearly 20,000 years. The exhibition will remain on view through March 23, 2014.  

The French cave complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been closed to the public since 1963 in order to preserve the artwork. Only recently has the artwork become again accessible to the masses with the launch of Lascaux — International Exhibition by the Consul General of Dordogne, which opened in Bordeaux, France, last October. 

After the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, HMNS is only the second venue in North America to show the exhibition, which includes a full-scale replica of a cave environment — down to the millimeter — with painting friezes, plus rare artifacts, multimedia presentations, realistic Cro-Magnon sculptures by Elisabeth Daynes, interactive learning stations, multi-media presentations and a virtual visit of the entire cave. 

"I know this exhibition is the perfect blend, of our museum, of nature and science and art . . . This is the kind of thing that will capture the imagination of museum visitors," said Joel Bartsch, president and CEO of HMNS.