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Want to Escape to France? Visit the MOA

Walk the streets of Paris this winter without leaving Provo. (Sadly, no food or drinks allowed.)

Jules Chéret, Folies-Bergère/La Loïe Fuller Émilienne D’Alençon
Jules Chéret, Folies-Bergère/La Loïe Fuller Émilienne D’Alençon, 1893, color lithograph. Photograph by John Faier. © 2015 The Richard H. Driehaus Museum.

I’ve always wanted to go to Paris. When I was ten, I spent an hour in the Paris-Charles de Gaulle International Airport, and I longed to stroll the streets with a tall, handsome stranger. Ten years later, my new husband—an avid Francophile himself—couldn’t wait to share the cities, peoples, and cultures of France with me. We bought plane tickets, scheduled a month of adventures, then miserably watched as the world closed down and canceled our dreams of pain au chocolat and Eiffel Tower kisses.

Then one wintry night, we started out on a walk and ended up in the basement of the Museum of Art (MOA) on BYU campus where we were welcomed by wrought-iron café chairs, a Morris column, and the lilting music of an accordion. Shocked by our luck and the wonder of what we’d found, we entered the exhibit: L’affichomania: The Passion for French Posters.

I am no expert on France or French posters, and neither is my husband, but as we entered the L’affichomania exhibit, it was impossible not to be drawn to the tall, striking images on every wall. Women swirling in pools of color, men in top hats and tails and coattails, all flocking to the opera, and a large midnight-black chat sitting and staring as we meandered by. The posters ranged in size from a small portrait to a floor-to-ceiling print, but all seemed to burst with color and creativity despite their main purpose of simply advertising.

As we roamed through the exhibit, enjoying the posters and learning about their historical context and the artists who created them, I was intrigued by the artistry these posters encompassed. Some were meant to be collectibles, but others were just for pasting up on the streets of Paris. While promoting the newest gadgets, art galleries, or famous actresses, they spoke of a time of complexity and intricacy far removed from today’s minimalist sensibilities. Modern-day posters feature design, but these posters are art. As we walked through the exhibit and back to our apartment, the evening flowed with conversation, laughter, and even a few kisses under the Kimball tower. While France may still be far away, L’affichomania let us bring it a little closer than before.

If you have also been craving an escape from Provo, or are looking for a simple evening of culture in the “city of light” with that special someone, come experience L’affichomania for yourself. Even better, bring along a fellow Francophile to relish the exhibit with you. L’affichomania will be open until February 19th, 2022. If you’re still not convinced, check out the posters, learn more about the exhibit, and even request a tour here.