To explore some caves, one needs to dial the technology down

Lascaux Field Museum
Replica Lascaux caves at “Scenes from the Stone Age”/photo Jean Lachat, Field Museum

In many ways, an exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum which seeks to replicate the Stone Age paintings of bulls and other animals at the French cave Lascaux, is a design and architectural feat. The cave, which is closed to the public in order to protect its treasures, fell to disrepair following excessive foot traffic and less-than-ideal conservation guidelines after it was accidentally discovered by four teenagers in the 1940s. Lascaux the replica, then, offers viewers what they can no longer appreciate in the original. Or at least that’s the premise of the exhibit.

But, Menachem Wecker argues in Canadian Art magazine, the replica is not only imperfect, but it also distorts the experience of the cave, despite its digital prowess. In the exhibit’s quest to cast sunlight on the cave’s mysteries, it may have settled for the cartoony and the stylized rather than actually convincing viewers, as its promotional materials suggest, that they are standing in the original caves.

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