Past Exhibitions



From January 2022

In November 1760, the Utile, a French East India Company vessel built and fitted out in Bayonne, set sail for  Île de France (currently the island of Mauritius).

Shortly after it arrived, the ship was sent to Madagascar to buy provisions. Its captain, Jean Lafargue, took advantage of this to buy 160 Malagasy slaves although he had been forbidden to do so.

On its way back, the boat was shipwrecked on the Île de Sable (Sand Island), an islet hardly a square metre in area. After spending two months there, the crew made their way back to Madagascar in a makeshift vessel built from the remains of the wreck, leaving behind 80 slaves who had escaped from the shipwreck.  

They promised them that they would come back to search for them, but they did not keep their promise. 

When, after having been forgotten about for fifteen years, a French Navy corvette commanded by sub-lieutenant Tromelin was able to rescue them, only seven women and an eight-month old baby were still alive.


Abandoned on this almost desolate island turned into a maritime prison, they left there year after year a silent tale of their suffering. A team of historians and archaeologists has tried to give them a voice in order to restore a page in the history of humanity.