Tribal art museum in Paris gets final touches

27th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 27, 2006 (AFP) - A stone's throw from the Eiffel Tower on the banks of the Seine, the final touches are being put to Europe's newest museum, a huge project celebrating and bringing to life non-Western art and heritage.

PARIS, March 27, 2006 (AFP) - A stone's throw from the Eiffel Tower on the banks of the Seine, the final touches are being put to Europe's newest museum, a huge project celebrating and bringing to life non-Western art and heritage.

*sidebar1*Named the Musée du Quai Branly after its location, the museum will house some 300,000 works of tribal art most brought to France from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania over past centuries of exploration.

"We are the guardians of a priceless treasure of 300,000 objects which tell the history of those who made them, and those who brought them here. It is important that we have the means to preserve them," said the museum's president Stephane Martin.

"Moreover these collections have been little studied. One of our ambitions is to revive such research, to make the objects talk."

The EUR 235.2 million project, which has overrun its budget by about seven percent, has drawn from collections previously held in Paris' Musée d'Homme and the Museum of African and Oceanic Arts.

Neither an art museum, nor a museum of ethnology nor a research centre, the Quai Branly aims to be all three and is working in tight collaboration with other similar institutes around the world.

"In Europe there are some great ethnological museums, but they don't have a lot of resources and present a kind of 'round the world in 80 showcases'," said Martin.

"The United States, New Zealand and Australia have some very dynamic museums, some are very entertaining, some very educational but often quite simplistic. Others are very militant museums.

"Our goal is different, to talk, to work together, while retaining our scientific outlook."

Some 3,500 pieces will be on permanent display, while the other pieces will be shown in a dozen temporary exhibitions each year. Over the past three years every object to be housed in Quai Branly has been examined, catalogued, bar-coded and cleaned of any parasites.

"It's been a kind of shuttle operation. Every day 400 to 500 objects have passed through our hands, been weighed, measured, restored if needed, photographed, digitalised in 2D or 3D and rewrapped," said Germain Viatte, the head of the huge operation.

Almost all the collection will be made available on the Internet, along with some 700,000 photographs as well as paintings, drawings, diaries and films made by ethnologists and explorers.

Nouvel, the architect behind the French capital's Institute du Monde Arabe, has designed the building in warm, earthy tones partly covered in wood to look like a long footbridge in the middle of a garden.

"It's a museum built around a collection where everything has been done to give rise to the emotions provoked by tribal art," said Nouvel.

One of the facades is decorated by paintings by contemporary Aborgine artists, another is a living wall of vegetation designed by the botanist Patrick Blanc.

Inside visitors are plunged into a twilight world to view the fragile works some of which date back to the 16th century and need protection from the light.

A 24-metre high tower has been constructed inside part of the building which emits musical murmurings to show off the collection of some 9,000 musical instruments from around the world.

It is hoped the museum will attract a million visitors a year with millions more logging on via the Internet "including the countries where these objects came from, which will have access to the collections they lost," said Viatte.

"It will be a collective memory restored to all."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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