The Musée du quai Branly, (Quai Branly Museum in English), is a new museum in Paris, France, situated close to the Eiffel Tower. It opened on June 23, 2006 and features indigenous art, cultures and civilisations from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.
The President Mr Jacques Chirac, established a commission in 1995 to examine the means of giving indigenous art its deserved place in French Museums. In 1998, a plot of land in the heart of Paris, beside the Eiffel Tower, and near the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, was designated as the site for the Quai Branly Museum.
Architect Jean Nouvel has designed the building with the demands of image, identity, environment and function in mind, which will be set among trees in an extensive garden designed by Gilles Clément.
The Museum’s Director, Mr Stephane Martin, was chosen to lead a team of talented cultural professionals in an institution that will offer not only the showcasing of some 300 000 objects, but also an interactive place of research, training, performance and international relations.
The collection is particularly strong in works from African countries and Pacific islands that were long under French colonial administration. It includes stone, wooden, terra cotta, ivory and metal masks, figures and ceremonial instruments. From the Americas, the pre-Hispanic collection is smaller, but the museum does have significant works of Native American art. One question, which will not be answered until Mr. Chirac leaves office, is whether the treasures in the Louvre will eventually move to Quai Branly.
The museum will also offer ample spaces for temporary exhibitions, which will form an important part of its program. Some will be thematic, like “What Is a Body?” or “D’un Regard à l’Autre,” which might be translated as “Viewing the Other,” a sort of mirror game between first and third worlds. Others being planned, like the art of New Ireland and Paracas, will be organized with foreign institutions.
Many governments and institutions have demonstrated their support for the Museum, and a policy of mutual aid and scientific cooperation is being developed with these countries.
New Zealand and France have indeed established contact and hope to further strengthen their cultural ties when Mr Martin and the Museum’s Curator for Oceania, Mr Yves Le Fur, visit New Zealand in early 2005.
To find out more about the Quai Branly Museum, we invite you to visit the Museum’s official website, where you will find information in English, French and Spanish: www.quaibranly.fr