First nation

Royal Collections

Royal Collections

This catalogue presents the quai Branly's most important artefacts relating to the first nations of Canada and the United States. By re-inserting them within the context of the history of French ethnographic collections, we are able to appreciate the profound interest that Europe paid to other parts of the world and the way in which Europe has preserved mankind's cultural heritage. This unusual line of study shows the ties that united France and North America from the 17th century onwards. It concentrates especially on the way in which France viewed objects, which were initially considered as ‘primitive’ curiosities, but then went on to become true art objects.


These objects were collected by explorers, army officers, traders and missionaries who had been sent to the states of Nouvelle France or Louisiana and became part of the royal collections. A large collection of these objects was deposited in the Bibliothèque nationale de France during the French Revolution and the weapons were gathered up in the musée de l’Armée. Another collection was transferred to the municipal library in Versailles. Between 1878 and 1934, these unrecognised treasures were brought together within the musée d’ethnographie du Trocadéro (the future musée de l’Homme) prior to coming to the musée du quai Branly.


112 pages, 20 cm x 26 cm 
160 colour illustrations, map
price : 11 €
ISBN 978-2-915133-45-5 / 978-2-711852-80-2

Co-published by the musée du quai Branly/Réunion des musées nationaux

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exhibition curator

Christian Feest, curator at the Museum für Völkerkunde in Vienna


Gilles Havard, Centre de recherches sur l’histoire des Etats-Unis et du Canada, université de Paris VII
Sylvia Kasprycki, Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde, Frankfurt
Pascal Riviale, curator at the musée d’Orsay

More information

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