The Museum Vaults Review
The Museum Vaults is the second of four graphic novels created through an unlikely publishing partnership: noted American art-comics publisher NBM and France’s cultural powerhouse museum the Louvre. All four of the stories will be about the Louvre in some way; the first book, Nicholas De Crecy’s Glacial Period, was published early in 2007.
Museum Vaults’ author, Marc-Antoine Mathieu, has been a prolific French cartoonist for the past twenty years, though very little of his work has turned up on this side of the Atlantic. (I’ll admit I didn’t previously know his work myself.)
As Museum Vaults opens, a young expert, Monsieur Volumer, arrives at a museum whose original name has been forgotten. His job is to delve into the subbasements beneath this museum to study, evaluate, and index the collections – to fully understand the museum.
Museum Vaults is divided into a number of short sections, each set on a particular day of Volumer’s explorations, and each showing him introduced to a new area of the museum. (Each sub-basement is larger than the one above it; the implication is that Volumer’s job is either infinite or impossible. And so the sections go from Day One to Day Three to Day Thirty-Three and on up; the book covers quite a long period of time.) And so each section is a gentle satire of some aspect of art or museum management, from molds to conservation to storage. Partway through, Volumer meets another expert, now aged, and receives his registers. And, then, at the end…you can probably guess. That’s about it for plot: Volumer learns about another area, and he and his assistant talk with the head of whatever-it-is for a few pages.
Andrew Wheeler has been a publishing professional for nearly twenty years, with a long stint as a Senior Editor at the Science Fiction Book Club and a current position at John Wiley & Sons. He’s been reading comics for longer than he cares to mention, and maintains a personal, mostly book-oriented blog at antickmusings.blogspot.com.
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