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THE TRACES OF HUMAN STEPS
This museum is not for everyones, I mean, you must have a defined trend towards curiosity about our origins and cultural differences as human beings.
The place is huge with a remarkable design, modern and spacious, with large rooms containing precious works of art from different cultures around the globe, mostly primitives if you see them through the crystal of our current hectic and vulgar modernity.
So, take your time to observe, to imagine, and to comprehend. Avoid to get in with children or even teenagers, they will be bored and in a short time they will become bothering with you as well.
In a synthesis, a marvelous place where several mysterious civilizations flow into a point to be admired.
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- Museum Visits
Musée du Quai Branly
Paris wouldn't be Paris without a huge new project every few years, and one of the most recent is this museum of the arts and civilizations of Africa, Asia, the South Pacific and the Americas, which opened in June 2006 and in its first year attracted 1.7 million visitors.
This museum is intended to present a "resolutely modern" view of non-occidental cultures. It replaces two older museums which were quite stuffy and tainted with bias from the colonial past.
As with all the big new Paris projects, this one was highly controversial before and after it opened. Before I went there I had heard a number of criticisms, for instance that it was "decontextualized" and unstructured, but when I went in I was quickly won over by the informative and attractive presentation of the many thousands of items on display. It definitely helps to get the audio guide.
One of the goals of the Branly museum was to attract not only Western visitors, but also immigrants and visitors from the non-occidental cultures that are on display. (But I don’t know if this has really happened. Are there any statistics on this?)
The building of the Branly museum was designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel (born 1945), who also designed the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, the unmistakable new/old opera house in Lyon and the stunning new concert house in Copenhagen.
Second photo: At the main entrance to the Branly museum there is a huge glass wall with announcements of what is going on inside.
Third photo: Outside view of the museum and grounds, with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Fourth photo: No photography is allowed inside the museum, so here is a projected preview of one of the exhibitions, outside near the ticket counters.
Fifth photo: The museum is located near the Eiffel Tower on the left bank of the Seine. From the other side of the river it can be reached directly by this footbridge, the Passerelle Debilly, which is one of only four footbridges over the Seine in Paris.
This is the end of my thematic loop on immigration.
Back to my first immigration review: Palais de la Porte Dorée
Back to my Paris intro page
- Museum Visits
Musée du quai Branly
The latest addition to the long list of great museums in Paris, le Musée du Quai Branly opened its doors in 2006. A brand new modern building, designed by Jean Nouvel, the architect who created l'Institut du Monde Arabe, was built for the purpose. Critics found it offensively modern, while others admired the building's ability to complement its Belle Epoque surroundings, particularly its glass façade and the vertical garden covering the rest of its façade. The museum is dedicated to non-western arts with items that made it to France over the past 500 years.
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
Living Wall of the Quai Branly
This museum houses artefacts and art pieces from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
We did not actually visit this museum (had some form of museum-fatigue by the end of 3-4 days!), but we stopped by to look at the vertical garden on the exterior wall of the building. This is called the "Living Wall", and the verdant plants and flowers add an interesting look to the design of this museum.
A visit to Quay Branly Museum
I prefer to visit those Museums most of the people do not know and that are not quite famous and advised on the tourist book guides.
I had a nice afternoon in Quay Branly - lost of culture/civilization and objects from all over the World.
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
Musee du Quai Branly
The ethnographic museum Quai Branly opened its doors in the summer of 2006. It's a wonderful building without any familiar precedents. The clever and surprising design by the architect Jean Nouvel has many completely different faces. Most striking is the North facade which has a 'cladding' of lush green living vegetation! Other elements are the colourful boxes sticking out the garden facade, the 'promenade architecturale' to get to the exhibition floors, large interior elements with leather upholstering and a huge five floor high glass cylinder containing traditional musical instruments from all over the world.
- Museum Visits
Musée du quai Branly - Part I
Art is close to the heart of every French person, and it is an imperative in France that everything is presented aesthetically: food, cars, packaging, architecture, gardens, drink, electronics. The beauty of France has always been the beauty. The downside is that practicality and function comes a very poor second, but still the nation that gave us Concorde, Versailles, Monet and the Citroen D6 survives. In recent years, France has provided the world with very little of the latest technologies; few other people consider beauty over function. Believe me, if Windows had been invented by the French it would have taken five hours to boot up your PC, but it would also have retuned your TV, parked your car and walked the dog in the meantime. But sometimes, aesthetics can simply go too far and practicality is not just relegated but eliminated. Perhaps the best example is in the brand new Musée du quai Branly, which is an architectural masterpiece on the outside but useless on the inside. I can hardly think of a good word to say about this museum, which is particularly sad as it is perhaps the museum I would most love to love. The arts of Africa, Asia and Oceania particularly interest me, and it should have been the highlight of my annual holiday.
On the bright side, at least the French can be congratulated for creating the first museum in the world that is easier for blind people to navigate than those with full vision, thanks to the multitude of braille panels. In short, much of the collection is mediocre, the lighting makes it physically impossible to read any of the sparse text (in small black print on a dark brown background), with seemingly no sense of order of any kind and poor maps and signposting. If you find anything of interest, it is largely by accident.
Open - Daily except Tuesdays 10.00 to 19.00 (Thursdays until 21.30)
Musée du quai Branly - Part III
The collection is grouped by area of the world, but there is no obvious attempt to provide interpretation or any kind of theme that would help to understand what you are admiring. In true Francophone political correctness, much has been made of the importance of understanding foreign cultures and art as a means of creating better understanding of the similarities and differences around the world. But if nothing is explained, then it just remains a pretty piece of jewellery or a scary mask, and we learn nothing. To make matters worse, in this quest to create a theme of understanding and appreciation of the riches of Asian, African and Oceanian art and culture, they left behind in the rump of the Musée de l’Homme the very exhibitions that would provide a platform and the starting point for both our cultural and social similarities and differences. The prehistoric exhibits and the exhibition on mankind around the world have been left, decaying, in the Palais de Chaillot, while the Musée du quai Branly lacks (among a lot of other things) the frame of reference for what it presents.
The Musée du quai Branly is a mess, a total unmitigated disaster and worth visiting to see how crass modern museums can be: it is, however, a useful case study in how not to design a museum. Almost unbelievably, one of the museum’s own commentaries arrogantly states how far removed it is from traditional museums. The designers and the curators of the Branly would do well to reflect on whether theirs meets any criteria on which museums could perhaps be measured: interpretation, display, lighting, access, ease of navigation, entertainment or education. It is possible to create museums that are far-removed from the traditional, without screwing it up completely: there are many in most countries around the world.
Musée du quai Branly - Part II
In a New York Times article, "For a New Paris Museum, Jean Nouvel Creates His Own Rules", journalist Nicolai Ouroussoff provides a more upbeat review, but then maybe he visited when the lights were switched on. Some of the political issues surrounding the collections at the Branly are aired here by a former Minister of Culture and Tourism of Mali (scroll down for it), while the Australian Art Review gushes - possibly without ever having visited the place.
The central feature is a ‘tower of musical instruments’ from around the world, and the guide book crows about this marvel. It seems to have escaped their attention that the musical instruments are stacked on shelves, four metres from you, behind glass. If I want to see musical instruments in that fashion, I can watch a TV programme with the sound turned off and stand in the garden looking in.
Much of the main floor is divided up by odd walls made of dark brown carbon-fibre: it’s like having an art gallery in some kind of giant model of an intestinal tract. Sprinkled along these wall are tiny TV screens showing movies, but of what we have absolutely no idea. If you wait you may – but in the Branly there is no guarantee – discover what is on. Again, if I want to discover culture on a TV screen, I can do this from the comfort of my own home.
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