Musée du quai Branly

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Musée du quai Branly

The Musée du quai Branly (French pronunciation: ​[myze dy ke bʁanli]) (MQB), known in English as the Quai Branly Museum, is a museum in Paris, France that features indigenous art, cultures and civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. The museum is located at 37, quai Branly - portail Debilly, 75007 Paris, France, situated close to the Eiffel Tower. The nearest métro and RER stations are Alma – Marceau and Pont de l'Alma, respectively. MQB is named after its location on the quai Branly, which in turn is named after the physicist Édouard Branly.


A commission was established to study the feasibility of building the museum in 1995. When the study was concluded, land was reserved near the Eiffel Tower for the future museum. The curved site on the edge of the Quai Branly and the Seine is situated 100 metres from the Eiffel Tower. The site was previously selected to accommodate the Centre International de Conferences, an abandoned Grand Projet of François Mitterrand.[1] French President Jacques Chirac was a very influential proponent of the project. Quai Branly opened on June 23, 2006. [2]


The MQB building was designed by architect Jean Nouvel. The "green wall" (200m long by 12m high) on part of the exterior of the museum was designed and planted by Gilles Clément and Patrick Blanc. At installation this was quite healthy and vibrant; however, in winter, the direct exposure of the plants to north winds blowing over the open expanse of the Seine river causes regular frost damage even though the support system for the plants' roots, irrigation and drainage has proved to be perfectly adequate on the less exposed east facade of the building and in other places in Paris where it is used.[3] The museum complex contains several buildings, as well as a multimedia library and a garden. The museum's frontage facing onto quai Branly features very tall glass paneling which allows its interior gardens to be remarkably quiet only metres from the busy street in front of them.


View of its African exhibits

MQB contains the collections of the now-closed Musée national des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie and the ethnographic department of the Musée de l'Homme. The museum contains 267,000 objects in its permanent collection, of which 3,500 items from the collection are on display. A part of it is now exhibit at the Pavillon des Sessions of the musée du Louvre, where the master pieces are such as "l'homme de fer".

The museum has also an important library with 3 main departments:

  • book collection with 2 reading rooms—a research reading room at the top floor and a popular reading room at the ground floor
  • picture collection with photographs and drawings
  • archive collection

The library has collections from important ethnologists such as Georges Condominas, Françoise Girard, Nesterenko, or art trader such as Jacques Kerchache.

Australian Aboriginal artists[edit]

Australian indigenous artists represented in the 2006 Australian Indigenous Art Commission at the Museum include Paddy Bedford (Kija), John Mawurndjul (Kunwinjku), Ningura Napurrula (Pintupi), Lena Nyadbi (Kija), Michael Riley (Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi), Judy Watson (Waanji), Tommy Watson (Pitjantjatjara) and Gulumbu Yunupingu (Gumatj). There are many Aboriginal artists represented in the collection, including Mawurndjul.


The MQB was recently involved in controversy over the return of Maori tattooed heads, known as mokomokai, held in France. The controversy arose after a museum in Normandy decided to return a tattooed head to New Zealand. Since 2003, the Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand's national museum, has embarked on a program of requesting the return of Maori remains held in institutions around the world.[4] While the MQB was initially reluctant to return the mokomokai to New Zealand, a change in French law in 2010 allowed for discussions which resulted in repatriation.[4] The mokomokai were formally returned to New Zealand on 23 January 2012 and they now housed at Te Papa and are not on display.[4]

MQB has also received criticism for a perceived reliance in its exhibitions on visual appeal and theatrics, as opposed to explanation and context. [5]

Australian Art Market Report Issue 23 Autumn 2007 Pages 32–34: "Twelve months after the opening of Musée du quai Branly in Paris, journalist Jeremy Eccles takes a look at what effect, if any, the museum" (where contemporary Aboriginal art forms an integral part of the architectural structure) " has had on .... Aboriginal art"

In this article, he quotes Bernice Murphy - co-founder of the Sydney MCA and now National Director of Museums Australia and Chair of the Ethics Committee of the International Council of Museums. She told a Sydney symposium on 'Australian Arts in an International Context' that she found the whole of Quai Branly to be a "regressive museology" and the presentation of Aboriginal art "in a vegetal environment" to be "an exotic mise en scène" in the worst taste. "It can't be decontextualised into a glorious otherness".

On more general terms, discontent with the MQB is based on its blunt disdain for the post-colonial reinterpretation of Western history which has developed since the 1970s and which has ultimately affected museums and changed curatorial practices. [6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Engel, Pierre. "Quai Branly Museum". Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Paris Primitive: Jacques Chirac's Museum on the Quai Branly, Sally Price (2007)
  3. ^ The design
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]


  • Sally Price, Paris Primitive: Jacques Chirac's Museum on the Quai Branly, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2007.
  • Odile Grandet, "The médiathèque at the musée du quai Branly in Paris : virtual, but more than that". Art Libraries Journal, 2007, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 35–39. ISSN 0307-4722.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°51′39″N 2°17′51″E / 48.86083°N 2.29750°E / 48.86083; 2.29750