Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 1–27

From the Waters of the Empire to the Tanks of Paris: The Creation and Early Years of the Aquarium Tropical, Palais de la Porte Dorée

Article

Abstract

From May to November 1931, the Exposition coloniale internationale was held in Paris. Publicized as a trip around the world in a single day, it was designed to stimulate investments and general enthusiasm for the colonies. Along with exotic temporary pavilions representing the various colonies, model villages inhabited by colonial natives, and pavilions representing commercial product brands and other colonial powers, the exposition included a zoo and an aquarium featuring animals from the colonies. Installing a large aquarium had been a costly and difficult process, and construction was plagued by many delays and problems. But when the aquarium finally opened a few months into the exposition, it quickly became a favorite of the public. With the double mission to provide a living synthesis of the products of the warm waters of the French empire and give visitors a sense of the diversity, beauty, and economic resources of their colonial possessions, the aquarium functioned as a panorama that presented a striking visual metaphor for the empire. This article follows the aquarium during the exposition and in the years that followed. We explore its place in the history of aquaria in general and pay particular attention to its role in the exposition and within the French colonial context of the 1930s and onward. Here, both the scientists in charge of the site and the aquatic animals living in its tanks and terrariums provide a window into the relationship of marine biology, public education, consumerism, and colonialism at mid-twentieth century.

Keywords

Aquarium Exposition coloniale internationale Fish Colonial fisheries French colonialism Jean Abel Gruvel Marine biology 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adams, Tom, and Banister, Keith. 1977. Aquarial Fish. New York: Crescent Books.Google Scholar
  2. Ageron, Charles-Robert. 1984. ‘‘L’exposition coloniale de 1931. Mythe républicain ou mythe impérial.’’ Pierre Nora (ed.) Les lieux de la mémoire, Vol. 1. Paris: Gallimard, pp. 561–594.Google Scholar
  3. Aldrich, Robert. 1996. Greater France: A History of French Overseas Expansion. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  4. Aldrich, Robert. 2008. ‘‘Le musée colonial impossible.’’ Pascal Blanchard, Sandrine Lemaire, and Nicolas Bancel (eds.) Culture coloniale en France. De la Révolution française à nos jours. Paris: CNRS éditions, pp. 545–561.Google Scholar
  5. Aldrich, Robert. 2009. ‘‘Colonial Museums in a Postcolonial Europe.’’ African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal 2 (2): 137–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Allen, David Elliston. 1976. The Naturalist in Britain: A Social History. London: A. Lane.Google Scholar
  7. Anonymous. 28 August 1931. ‘‘A l’Exposition coloniale.’’ Le Temps.Google Scholar
  8. Anonymous. 1994. ‘‘à la découverte de… l’Aquarium du Musée national des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie.’’ La Lettre de l’OCIM 35 (4): 3–6.Google Scholar
  9. Aquarium. Revue pour favoriser le développement de l’aquariophilie, 1934–1936.Google Scholar
  10. Arnold, David. 1996. The Problem of Nature: Environment, Culture, and European Expansion. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  11. Arnold, David. 2000. ‘‘‘‘Illusory Riches’’: Representations of the Tropical World, 1840–1950.’’ Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 21 (1): 6–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Arnold, David. 2006. The Tropics and the Travelling Gaze: India, Landscape, and Science, 1800–1856. Seattle: University of Washington Press.Google Scholar
  13. Atz, James W. 1971. Aquarium Fishes: Their Beauty, History, and Care. New York: The Viking Press.Google Scholar
  14. Barber, Lynn. 1980. The Heyday of Natural History: 1820–1870. New York: Doubleday & Company Inc.Google Scholar
  15. Bellesme, Jousset de. 1909. La pisciculture en France: de 1884 à 1900. Paris: J. B. Baillière et fils.Google Scholar
  16. Besnard, Wladimir. 1938. Capture et acclimatation des poissons exotiques: Capture, accoutumance, transport, questions commerciales, procédés techniques, types d’aménagement. Paris: Payot.Google Scholar
  17. Blévis, Laure, Lafont-Couturier, Hélène, Snoep, Nanette Jacomijn, and Zalc, Claire (eds.). 2008. 1931. Les étrangers au temps de l’Exposition coloniale. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  18. Bonneuil, Christophe. 1991. Des savants pour l’empire. La structuration des recherches scientifiques et coloniales au temps de ‘‘la mise en valeur des colonies françaises’’ 19171945. Paris: éditions de l’ORSTOM.Google Scholar
  19. Bonneuil, Christophe. 2000. ‘‘Development as Experiment: Science and State Building in Late Colonial and Postcolonial Africa, 1930–1970.’’ Osiris 15: 258–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Boucher, Maurice. 1952. L’Aquarium équilibré, guide de l’aquariophilie, 3eme ed. Paris: R. Weill.Google Scholar
  21. Brunner, Bernd. 2005. The Ocean at Home: An Illustrated History of the Aquarium. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.Google Scholar
  22. Chevallier, F. 1933. Les Poisson exotiques d’ornement. Leur élevage en aquarium. Paris: S. Bornemann.Google Scholar
  23. Conklin, Alice L. 1997. A Mission to Civilize: The Republican Idea of Empire in France and West Africa, 1895–1930. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Cook, Harold J. 2007. Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine and Science in the Dutch Golden Age. New Haven: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Copin, L. 1952. ‘‘Une visite á l’aquarium du musée de la France d’Outre-Mer.’’ Notre Aquarium 2(8): 188-190.Google Scholar
  26. Coquery-Vidrovitch, Catherine. 1990. ‘‘L’apogée. L’exposition coloniale intrenationale.’’ Jacques Thobie, Gilbert Meynier, Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, and Charles-Robert Aqeron. (eds.) Histoire de la France coloniale, (1914-1990), Vol. 2. Paris: Armand Collin, pp. 211-225.Google Scholar
  27. Coquery-Vidrovitch, Catherine. 2008. ‘‘Vendre: Le mythe économique colonial (1900–1940).’’ Pascal Blanchard, Sandrine Lemaire, and Nicolas Bancel (eds.) Culture coloniale en France. De la Révolution française à nos jours. Paris: CNRS éditions, pp. 219–229.Google Scholar
  28. Cosgrove, Denis. 2005. Felix Driver and Luciana de Lima Martins (eds.) Tropic and Tropicality. Tropical Visions in an Age of Empire. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 197–216.Google Scholar
  29. Dagry, Marcel. 1947. Les Aquariums, les plantes, les poissons, les maladies des poissons d’aquarium, les poissons exotiques vivipares. Paris: établissements de pisciculture.Google Scholar
  30. Demaison, André. 1931. [A Paris en 1931] Exposition coloniale internationale. Guide officiel. Paris: Mayeux.Google Scholar
  31. Doordan, Dennis. 1995. ‘‘Simulated Seas: Exhibition Design in Contemporary Aquariums.’’ Design Issues 11 (2): 3–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Eidelman, Jacqueline, Monjaret, Anne, and Roustan, Mélanie. 2003. ‘‘MAAO, mémoire d’une organisation.’’ Culture & Musées 2: 101–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Exposition coloniale internationale de Paris 1931. 1931. Paris: L’Illustration.Google Scholar
  34. Exposition coloniale internationale Paris 1931: Guide illustré. 1931. Paris: éditions Montmartre – Paris.Google Scholar
  35. Feytaud, J. 1942. ‘‘Abel Gruvel’’. 1870–1941. Revue de Zoologie agricole et appliquée Janvier-Février 1942: 1–7.Google Scholar
  36. Grandsart, Didier. 2010. Paris 1931: Revoir l’exposition coloniale. Paris: Editions FVW.Google Scholar
  37. Gruvel, Abel. 1908. Les pêcheries des côtes du Sénégal et des rivières du Sud. Paris: A. Challamel.Google Scholar
  38. Gruvel, Abel. 1911. ‘‘Mission Gruvel sur la Côte Occidentale d’Afrique.’’ Annales de l’Institut océanographique. Tome III, Fasc. IV: 1–4.Google Scholar
  39. Gruvel, Abel. 1925. De l’utilisation dans l’industrie des peaux de certains reptiles de nos colonies. Paris: Société d’éditions géographiques, maritimes et coloniales.Google Scholar
  40. Gruvel, Abel. 1930. Titres et travaux scientifiques. Paris: Société d’éditions géographiques, maritimes et coloniales.Google Scholar
  41. Gruvel, Abel, and Bouyat, A. 1906. Les Pêcheries de la Côte Occidentale d’Afrique. Paris: Augustin Challamel.Google Scholar
  42. Hamera, Judith. 2012. Parlor Ponds: The Cultural Work of the American Home Aquarium, 1850–1970. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  43. Hamlin, Christopher. 1986. ‘‘Robert Warington and the Moral Economy of the Aquarium.’’ Journal of the History of Biology 19 (1): 131–153.Google Scholar
  44. Hodeir, Catherine, and Pierre, Michel. 1991. L’Exposition coloniale. Brussels: Editions Complexe.Google Scholar
  45. Hoisington, William A. 1995. Lyautey and the French Conquest of Morocco. New York: St Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  46. Janes, Lauren Rebecca Hinkle. 2011. The Taste of Empire: Colonial Food in Interwar Paris. PhD Dissertation, UCLA.Google Scholar
  47. Kete, Kathleen. 1994. The Beast in the Boudoir: Petkeeping in Nineteenth-Century Paris. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  48. Kisling, Vernon N. 2001. Zoo and Aquarium History: Ancient Animal Collections to Zoological Gardens. Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  49. Lebovics, Herman. 1992. True France: The Was Over Cultural Identity, 1900–1945. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Lebovics, Herman. 2004. Bringing the Empire Back Home: France in the Global Age. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Lebovics, Herman. 2008. ‘‘The Zoos of the Exposition Coloniale Internationale, Paris 1931.’’ Pascal Blanchard, Nicolas Bancel, Gilles Boötsch, Eric Deroo, Sandrine Lemaire, and Charles Forsdick (eds.) Human Zoos: Science and Spectacle in the Age of Colonial Empires. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, pp. 369–376.Google Scholar
  52. Lemaire, Sandrine. 2008a. ‘‘Manipuler: à la conquête des goûts (1931–1939).’’ Pascal Blanchard, Sandrine Lemaire, and Nicolas Bancel (eds.) Culture coloniale en France. De la Révolution française à nos jours. Paris: CNRS éditions, pp. 341–353.Google Scholar
  53. Lemaire, Sandrine. 2008b. ‘‘Promouvoir: fabriquer du colonial (1930–1940).’’ Pascal Blanchard, Sandrine Lemaire, and Nicolas Bancel (eds.) Culture coloniale en France. De la Révolution française à nos jours. Paris: CNRS éditions, pp. 305–318.Google Scholar
  54. Lemaire, Sandrine, and Blanchard, Pascal. 2003. ‘‘Exhibitions, expositions, médiatisation et colonies.’’ Pascal Blanchard and Sandrine Lemaire (eds.) Culture Coloniale. La France conquise par son empire, 18711931. Paris: éditions Autrement, pp. 43–54.Google Scholar
  55. Leprun, Sylviane. 1986. Le théâtre des colonies: Scénographie, acteurs et discours de l’imaginaire dans les expositions 1855–1937. Paris: éditions L’Harmattan.Google Scholar
  56. Limoges, Camille. 1980. ‘‘The development of the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle of Paris c. 1800–1914.’’ Robert Fox and George Weisz (eds.) The Organization of Science and Technology in France, 1808–1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 211–240.Google Scholar
  57. Lorenzi, Camille. 2009. ‘‘L’Engouement pour l’aquarium en France (1855–1870).’’ Societies and Representations 28: 255–271.Google Scholar
  58. Magnin, G.M. 1933. Les poissons d’ornement. Conseils pratiques. Saint-Amand: Imprimérie R. Brussière.Google Scholar
  59. Mattie, Erik. 1998. World’s Fairs. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.Google Scholar
  60. McClellan, James E. 1992. Colonialism and Science: Saint Domingue in Old Regime. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Mes plantes d’aquarium. 1956. Paris: La Maison Rustique.Google Scholar
  62. Mes poissons d’aquarium. 1953. Paris: La Maison Rustique.Google Scholar
  63. Monjaret, Anne, Roustan, Mélanie, and Eidelman, Jacqueline. 2005. ‘‘Fin du MAAO: Un patrimoine revisité.’’ Ethnologie française XXXV 4: 605–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Morton, Patricia A. 2000. Hybrid Modernities: Architecture and Representation at the 1931 Colonial Exposition, Paris. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  65. Nicoll, Edna L. 1931. A travers l’exposition coloniale. Paris: éditions Edna L. Nicoll.Google Scholar
  66. Notre Aquarium. Revue mensuelle pour la vulgarisation de l’aquariophilie. 1951–1954.Google Scholar
  67. Olivier, Marcel. 1932–1934. Exposition coloniale internationale et des pays d’outre-mer, Paris 1931: rapport général, 7 vols. Paris: Imprimerie nationale.Google Scholar
  68. Osborne, Michael A. 1994. Nature, the Exotic, and the Science of French Colonialism. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Osborne, Michael A. 2000. ‘‘Acclimatizing the World: A History of the Paradigmatic Colonial Science.’’ Osiris 15: 135–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Osborne, Michael A. 2005. ‘‘Science and the French Empire.’’ Isis 96 (1): 80–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Petit, M.G. 1933. ‘‘Aquarium du Musée des Colonies.’’ Bulletin du museum national d’histoire naturelle 5: 56–59.Google Scholar
  72. Price, Sally. 2007. Paris Primitive: Jacque Chirac’s Museum on the Quai Branly. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  73. Pyenson, Lewis. 1993. Civilizing Mission: Exact Sciences and French Overseas Expansion, 1830–1940. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Ric et Rac. Grand hebdomadaire pour tous. 1934–1935.Google Scholar
  75. Rothfels, Nigel. 2002. Savage and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Rozwadowski, Helen M. 2005. Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  77. Schiebinger, Londa. 2004. Plants and Empire. Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  78. Schiebinger, Londa, and Swan, Claudia (eds.). 2005. Colonial Botany: Science, Commerce, and Politics in the Early Modern World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  79. Schneider, William H. 2008. ‘‘The Ethnographic Exhibitions of the Jardin Zoologique d’Acclimatation.’’ Pascal Blanchard, Nicolas Bancel, Gilles Boötsch, Eric Deroo, Sandrine Lemaire, and Charles Forsdick (eds.), Human Zoos: Science and Spectacle in the Age of Colonial Empires. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, pp. 142–150.Google Scholar
  80. Smith, Tim D. 1994. Scaling Fisheries: The Science of Measuring the Effects of Fishing, 1855–1955. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Stepan, Nancy Leys. 2001. Picturing Tropical Nature. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  82. Strehlow, Harrow. 1996. ‘‘Zoos and Aquariums of Berlin.’’ R.J. Hoage and William A. Deiss (eds.) New Worlds, New Animals: From Menagerie to Zoological Park in the Nineteenth Century. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, pp. 63–72.Google Scholar
  83. Taylor, Leighton. 1993. Aquariums: Windows to Nature. Toronto: Prentice Hall General Reference.Google Scholar
  84. Thétard, Henry. 1947. Des hommes des bêtes: Le zoo de Lyautey. Paris: La table ronde.Google Scholar
  85. Thomas, Martin. 2005. The French Empire Between the Wars: Imperialism, Politics, and Society. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  86. Ungar, Steve. 2003. ‘‘La France impériale exposée en 1931: une apothéose.’’ Pascal Blanchard and Sandrine Lemaire (eds.) Culture Coloniale. La France conquise par son empire, 18711931. Paris: éditions Autrement, pp. 201–211.Google Scholar
  87. Wilder, Gary. 2005. The French Imperial Nation-State: Negritude and Colonial Humanism Between Two World Wars. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  88. Wilson, Robert. 2007. Great Exhibitions: The World Fairs 1851–1937. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

Personalised recommendations