Address: Quai Branly 37 | PARIS | France | Visit Website
Latitude/Longitude: 48.8616, 2.29778
This museum was designed to display and house works of art from little-known non-Western cultures, as well as to promote the research and teaching of these forms. The collections come from the Laboratory of Ethnology of the Museum of Mankind and the former African and Oceanic Arts museum, and they comprise 300,000 items from Africa, America, Asia and Oceania spread over various buildings with a total area of 430,600 sq. ft. designed by this prestigious team of local architects. It is undoubtedly an architectural as well as an historical phenomenon; this impressive setting houses one of the biggest art collections in the world, putting them on an equal footing with the rest of the world s art works, despite their being unknown art forms that were not appreciated until very recently.
The international competition
There was an international call for tenders in January 1999; the world s most prestigious architects submitted bids, and the winning bid came from the Jean Nouvel team of architects. The project consisted of an idea of architecture that respected the environment, both in the use of nonaggressive materials and with regard to the urban landscape of the heart of Paris. The museum complex of four buildings is very near the Eiffel Tower, right in the heart of Paris. For the building of the complex, the architects took into account functionality and integrating the building into the urban and natural surroundings.
The museum s interior layout is designed as if it were an open platform that opens the visitor s eyes and mind to these new art forms. The spiral access ramp leads to the collections platform and fictitious map represents an imaginary archipelago made up of the various cultural groups. On one side of the main walkway are all the objects related to Asia and Africa, and on the other side, those of Oceania and the Americas. This seamless route enables visitors to stop at the major thematic items: costumes from Asia, musical instruments and textiles from Africa, masks of Oceania, and finally religious objects from the Americas. In addition to the items in display, there are more than a hundred audio-visual installations that are informative and raise the visitor s awareness. The soft spotlighting plays with shadows and the colors chosen for the interior are warm and intense, designed to absorb the light. In the central part, above the platform, there is a hanging gallery for visitors to meditate, extend their visit, and delve a little deeper into the themes that have made the most impression on them. Users can have fun interacting with the encyclopedia programs installed here. There are also Braille texts, tactile bar-reliefs, touch-screens, and so on, that enable visitors to relate to the space around them.
This place has been designed as a leisure center for cultural exchanges and as an assembly of different civilizations; theater, dance and music events are scheduled every year. The aim for the museum is to become a symbol of peace and brotherhood between people.
⇒ Architecture Guide to PARIS
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