|Friday September 15th, Bobbi & Tim and Jerome & I set out to go to the new Musee Quai Branly. At dinner the
previous night we heard some not so good reviews about the museum. This had also been the case from talking to
various people at the show and others through email. I will still excited to see the new museum, even if it had it's
We got there a little before it opened and we didn't have to wait in line too long. It's an interesting building
architecturally and when you walk into the museum you see a big round storage room filled with objects. One of the
nice things they have done with the museum is to enclose some of their storage archives in glass so you can walk
around and see some of the objects that aren't on display in the museum galleries.
To get back to the gallery space, they have you walk along this stark white walk way that seems to go on forever.
There is nothing on the walls for you to see but every so often you will see videos of the jungle and water and other
things that are being projected down on to the walk way. I guess this long walk way is supposed to "transport" you
from the outside reality and take you along a path to clear your senses and mind until you come into the main
entrance to the galleries. It's an interesting idea, but to me it's a lot of wasted space and a long walk into the
entrance to the gallery areas of the museum.
The lighting in the museum is problematic in many ways and really detracts from the objects on display in my
opinion. That was the general consensus from others that I talked to as well. There are many nice things on display,
but sometimes you really had to strain to look at an object and see any good detail. I took a few photos inside of the
museum to give you an idea and this page also has a little bit of commentary from me on the displays.
If you go to the museum I would highly recommend buying the museum guide in the book/gift shop before you go
into the museum. They have a great English version that gives a lot of good photos and descriptions, I didn't buy it
until after I got out of the museum but it would have been nice to have while I was in there because the labels are in
French and there were many things I had never come across before.
Below are a few photos I took of the inside and outside of the museum. You're really not supposed to take photos
inside but many people were. My camera is a little big and bulky though so I only took a few photos.
Overall I liked the museum and loved the concept that it was entirely devoted to the native arts of cultures around
the world, but the museum does have it's issues and hopefully they will work on getting them fixed.
|(Above and below) A view from the entrance garden of the museum. The colored boxes on the
side are little rooms in the African gallery that focus on objects from specific cultures.
|Above and on the very right of the photo on the right you can see the 15,000 plants of 150 species from the entire world that have been planted over
800 m², composing CNRS researcher Patrick Blanc’s "plant wall", which covers the facade of the administrative building, “Branly”, it's an interesting
"Supported by French President Jacques Chirac, the Musée du Quai Branly is setting out to showcase the importance of the art and civilization of Africa,
Asia, Oceania and the Americas at the crossroads of many different cultural, religious and historical influences. Situated on the banks of the Seine at the
foot of the Eiffel Towel, the museum is a forum for scientific and artistic dialogue, a crossroads of exchange between the public, researchers, students as
well as contemporary creators.
A new, multifaceted institution right in the heart of Paris
Designed by architect Jean Nouvel, the Musée du Quai Branly will exhibit 3,500 objects from this universal heritage permanently and devotes nearly
5,000 m2 to temporary exhibits. The public can also enjoy a 500-seat theatre, a screening room, several classrooms, a reading room and a multimedia
library with a room for consulting highly valuable collections.
Conceived by Gilles Clément, featuring 180 trees that are more than de 15 meters tall and many different plant species, the garden has been designed
to be a border of greenery surrounding the museum. 15,000 plants of 150 species from the entire world have been planted over 800 m², composing
CNRS researcher Patrick Blanc’s plant wall, which covers the façade of the administrative building, “Branly”.
The “Université” building demonstrates the important place reserved for contemporary art at the Musée du Quai Branly. Eight of the most famous
Australian Aboriginal artists have stamped their worldview on the ceilings and façade.
Facing the Seine, the 200-meter-long, 12-meter-high glass fence acts as an initial barrier to access to the museum and its activities. Protecting and
promoting the collections
From October 2001 through September 2004, the collection construction site made it possible to identify, treat, decontaminate, clean, restore,
computerize, take 2D and 3D photos and document all 300,000 works from the ethnology laboratory of the Musée de l’Homme and the Musée National
des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie. This collection construction site is a technical and scientific first in France, serving as an example for many museums
The 3,500 works exhibited in the permanent collections are presented in a vast space with no partitions, spread out over large continental “zones”:
Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. The objects are accessible to as many people as possible thanks to contextualization supported by different
levels of information: identification cards, texts or multimedia, including photographs, films and music.
In addition to the permanent collection displays, there will be ten temporary collections each year, distributed among the collections’ hanging galleries
and the Galerie Jardin, a space for major international exhibitions, making it possible to present fundamental themes, while showcasing the treasures of
the collections. "
|From the American Indian gallery. Throughout the museum many objects are displayed in
double sided glass display walls that allow you to view the objects from both sides. The bad
thing is that usually only one side was lit well. It was a nice concept though.
|Above is a shot of the African gallery showing the double sided glass
display walls. The photo was taken without a flash and it sort of gives
you an idea about the lighting. There were lots of great things on view
though in my opinion.
|CLICK HERE to go to the Musee quai Branly website to explore the collection online
Once you get to the search menu, it's in French.
In the upper menu on the search page just select the collection you want to see and then click on "lancer
la recherche" button.
One thing I found helpful with their frustrating website when doing this was to click on the "Afrique" link in
the description of an object to narrow the list down to only African objects. You can do that for any
culture, the culture is usually listed last.
RETURN to the Parcours des mondes photo review
RAND AFRICAN ART home page
|As you can see from this photo, they have a very nice selection of Fang objects with a wide
range of styles, it's a pretty important grouping. However it would have been great to see these
from different angles and only the back section was lit well so you really had to get up close to
see any detail at all on the ones in front.
|In the South African room things were lit a little better. Above was a nice display of Tsonga (3
on the right), Zulu (2 in the back) and I didn't write down the one of the left.
|A general view of the interior space of the museum. The photo is from their website.
|They have published a catalog of the "Masterpieces" from the
collection, the book covers all areas displayed in the museum. It's a
nice book. The book shop has quite a few books and they publish
books from the special exhibitions they have throughout the year as
|Musee quai Branly
("quai Branly" is pronounced: Kay - Brawn - Lee) It took me a while to get that down.