Paris definitely has its fair share of amazing museums. Most people make it to the Louvre or the Musée D’Orsay, which are great, but if you want to visit a museum that is truly unlike the rest then I suggest Musée du Quai Branly. Currently the museum is celebrating 10 years of Pavillon des Sessions with 108 major pieces of art from the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Oceanic regions.
Inaugurated by former French President Jacques Chirac on June 20th 2006 and designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, Musée du Quai Branly is a museum dedicated to ancient art and artifacts from Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Americas. It has been designed so that when you enter this museum you really feel like you have left Paris and have begun a journey into the unknown. The entry area has high open glass walls off of Quai Branly, with tall grass and running water to give the feel of being in a forest. Grass and other plants also grow on the exterior walls of the building, giving it in places natural color of green. The color coded floor tells you which continent you are currently walking through and you can flow effortlessly through each one like a feather in the breeze.
Unlike many museums where art is simply hung on the walls the artifacts here are suspended behind glass panels and give the illusion of floating in front of your eyes. The windows to the outside are all coated in a green foliage print that prevents most of the light from entering and gives you the impression of being deep in a rainforest. The darkness that pervades the entire exhibition adds a sense of intrigue and small cave-like alcoves hide such things as eerily lit African masks. It is almost a seductive experience as you wander through the shadows and catch a stranger’s glance in a glass panel’s reflection. Treasures to be found include a wooden funeral post composed of animal skulls from Madagascar, a Maori fertility pendant, shadow puppets from India made of goat skin, and various gorgeously ornate weapons from different civilizations, to name a few. Each piece comes with a description of its use and cultural significance, allowing you to discover a population’s traditions and rituals and then continue along the trail. A true treat for the senses you can also listen to chants and other music in the small room called the ‘Music Box’.
France is great in organizing special events for children at museums, with workshops and other activities and Musée du Quai Branly is especially exciting for children. Kids will actually enjoy this museum as there are interactive screens that allow them to look at photos and learn about far away places while sitting in their own little sand colored hideouts. The museum also has put together workshops for children where they can make their own toys, paint, or even hear oral stories from various countries. Birthday parties can also be organized, as well as making of magical objects of Central African art.
To finish the visit there is a lovely gift shop with music and books from all over the world as well as truly unique souvenirs. Two restaurants are available onsite as well: ‘Café Branly’ for a casual lunch in the beautiful gardens or the fancier option of ‘Les Ombres’ which comes with the most amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. The recognizable living plant wall and glass entrance are hard to miss so stop by Musée du Quai Branly while in Paris, as adventure awaits!
Musée du Quai Branly also has concerts and temporary exhibits year round. For more information: www.quaibranly.fr
37 Quai Branly
Phone: 01 56 61 70 00