Quai Branly Museum

The Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac—more commonly known simply as the Quai Branly Museum—is one of the newest museums to arrive on the scene in Paris. Located mere steps northeast of the Eiffel Tower and just across the Seine from the Paris Museum of Modern Art, the Quai Branly Museum is a strikingly modern facility devoted to the art of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.

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History of the Quai Branly Museum

The late 1990s saw the culmination of a decades-long push for the creation of a new museum in Paris dedicated to the arts and cultures of the people indigenous to the many areas of the globe once colonized by the French. Ground finally broke on this project in 2001, during the presidential administration of Jacques Chirac (which is why his name is attached to the official title of the museum). The Quai Branly Museum was designed by Jean Nouvel, and its low-lying buildings, which seem to follow the curve of the Seine, are to this day fascinating architectural features. Quai Branly Museum opened its doors to the public in 2006.

Though the Quai Branly Museum is a relatively new addition to the world of Paris museums, the hundreds of thousands of artworks, objects, and items that comprise the Quai Branly Museum permanent collection come out of the remains of several previous institutions. The Quai Branly Museum received the bulk of its possessions from Musée de l’Homme, an anthropology museum founded by the ethnologist Paul Rivet in preparation for the 1937 International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life, and the National Museum of Arts of Africa and Oceania, which existed in one form or another for about 70 years before merging with the Quai Branly.

Quai Branly Museum Highlights

The Quai Branly Museum’s expansive permanent collection contains some 300,000 items, objects, and artworks drawn from all across Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. Approximately 3,500 of these pieces are on display throughout the institution at any one given moment in time. The Quai Branly Museum takes tremendous pride in presenting each one of these artifacts “without partition,” meaning work drawn from throughout all four continents is placed alongside one another without concern for traditional geographic boundaries.

Taken together, the permanent collection of the Quai Branly Museum is quite varied, both in terms of scope and style. Among its particular highlights are household objects from Indonesia, handcrafted masks from early twentieth-century Nigeria, ancient statues from the Americas, and regal robes from nineteenth-century China.

The Quai Branly Museum typically organizes 10-12 temporary exhibitions within its galleries throughout a calendar year. Some of these shows draw special attention to holdings curated from the museum’s permanent collection, while others represent collaborative programs with other prestigious institutions from around the world. Recent temporary exhibitions staged at the Quai Branly Museum include Photographs, 1842-1986: An Early Album of the WorldAnne Eisner (1911-1967): An American Artist in the Congo, and Senghor and the Arts: Reimagining Universalism.

More to See and Do at the Quai Branly Museum

There’s much to see and do at the Quai Branly Museum, as the fun and learning doesn’t stop once you’ve exited its fascinating galleries. Keep reading for more things of note regarding your upcoming visit to the Quai Branly Museum.

•Once you’ve finished exploring the facility’s remarkable galleries, one of the next best elements of the Quai Branly Museum is actually found right outside its front doors! That’s right, Quai Branly Museum is surrounded by a splendid garden designed by the landscape architect Gilles Clément. This stunning area comprises almost 200,000 square feet of space and contains hundreds of trees, tens of thousands of plants, and is not to be missed.

•Perhaps the neatest component of the Quai Branly Museum gardens is its so-called “Green Wall.” Created by French botanist Patrick Blanc, this lush landscape design covers a significant portion of the museum’s exterior walls with roughly 15,000 plants drawn from 150 unique species.

•There are two dining experiences available at the Quai Branly Museum. Those visitors wanting something a tad more casual should seek out Café Jacques, which is charmingly situated near the museum’s beautiful garden. Those in the market for a delicious prix-fixe meal in an unforgettable setting should head straight for Les Ombres, which is located on the museum’s roof and features breathtaking views of the nearby Eiffel Tower.

•The Quai Branly Museum gift shop is a carefully curated store stocking a unique selection of books, jewelry, textiles, and decorative objects pertaining to the cultures honored throughout its galleries. It’s a terrific place to pick up an artisan-crafted keepsake or take home a memorable souvenir.

•There are numerous ways to get even more out of your visit to the Quai Branly Museum. An audio guide may be rented on-site for a small additional fee, while the museum routinely runs a variety of guided tours and informative workshops. Check the Quai Branly Museum official website for more information in advance of your trip.

Why the Quai Branly Museum Should Be on Your Must-See List

Over the past two decades, the Quai Branly Museum has established itself as an outstanding new addition to the fabled Paris museum scene. Its eclectic collection, drawn from a remarkable range of cultures, time periods, and continents, is dazzling in scope. Throw in the museum’s groundbreaking design, lovely grounds, and unbeatable proximity to the Eiffel Tower, and you’ll want to carve out some time in your busy Paris schedule to see the Quai Branly Museum for yourself.