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HONEY, I SHRUNK THE TOURISTS!

Visitors to Micropolis, a theme park and museum dedicated to famous French entomologist Jean-Henri Casimir Fabre (1823--1914), can see the world through an insect's perspective, thanks to architect Bruno Decaris and cinematographer Francois Confino. They joined forces to construct a facility that simulates the environment of bugs in Fabre's birthplace, Saint-Leon-en-Levezou.

Fabre is best known for writing Souvenirs Entomologiques, a series of educational volumes that described in detail the lives of insects and their place in nature, something Micropolis demonstrates. Patrons enter through a cleft cut into a rock-like facade of the park. This opening gradually increases to 13 feet in height, like cracks from the point of view of ants and beetles.

Inside the park proper, green metal stalks support giant brass flowers that form the roof of the structure, towering above visitors as they would over the tiny denizens of a flowerbed. Natural and artificial light is blended to produce shafts of light as seen from a garden floor.

The park's 5,400-square-foot mineral facade is designed to interplay with daylight to symbolize the multifaceted vision of insects. An audio system pipes in the chirping of crickets, and ducts waft the scents of field and flowers through the park.

In addition to entertaining its visitors, Micropolis educates them through 11 halls that describe the work of entomologists as well as the entire life cycle of insects. The halls contain cavern and vivarium displays that depict insect metamorphoses. Among the most popular attractions are human-scale models of insects, some anthropomorphized with top hat and tails, a la Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, who hit the big time in another theme park.

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Title Annotation:French theme park shows insect point of view
Comment:HONEY, I SHRUNK THE TOURISTS!(French theme park shows insect point of view)
Author:VALENTI, MICHAEL
Publication:Mechanical Engineering-CIME
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Feb 1, 2001
Words:272
Previous Article:Letters.
Next Article:DAMS TO STAY.
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