An exhibition at Paris’ famed Musee D’Orsay is challenging the French to confront their past. The main exhibit is a guillotine; for over two hundred years its use was the centre of debate and discussion.
The ‘national razor’, as it was nicknamed, was last used in 1977. This is the first time the guillotine, once a popular spectator sport, has gone on public display since it received its own death sentence and was outlawed in 1981.
“It’s still important for the young people or whoever else to have some idea how the machine worked,” said Victoria Otero, a student from Paris visiting the exhibition. Kathy, a tourist from the US, agreed with that sentiment.
“I think it’s a good thing. I think people ought to know what really went on and how it works,” she said.
The exhibition is called “Crime and Punishment”, after author Dostoyevsky’s weighty tome, and was the brain child of Robert Badinter, who as Minister of Justice led the move to abolish the guillotine.
It brings together various paintings and drawings of violent crime and methods of punishment including the death penalty. The exhibition will run until the end of June with the guillotine once again set to prove a popular attraction.