The Spirit of the Place

The Spirit of the Place

“The masterpieces of the entire world are born free and equal. »

It was in response to this manifesto, coined by the collector Jacques Kerchache in 1990, that President Jacques Chirac decided to undertake and complete an ambitious project: that of bringing together the French collections of the arts of non-European societies within a well-established institution. Thus 3500 masterpieces from Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Americas are presented amongst the musée du quai Branly's 300 000 artefacts.

The Spirit of the Place – the musée du quai Branly reminds us first of all of the project’s genesis and the controversial debates that surrounded its foundation. It then moves on to the different stages of the museum’s construction, starting with the international architectural competition that was won by Jean Nouvel. The building lies on the Left Bank of the River Seine, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, as a bridge structure, with curves and long lines, that was built to stand on legs fifteen metres above the ground, and bestrides a garden filled with dense vegetation designed by Gilles Clément. Twenty-nine coloured boxed of various dimensions are fixed to the main façade and a plant wall covers the administrative building on the Seine side. As for the collections, they are gathered within a single unpartitioned space that is 210 m long.

This work employs drawings, photographs and models to reveal specific features of the architecture. The building is dedicated to cultural encounters and is intended to serve as a centre for multiple activities, with its own media centre, theatre, temporary exhibitions and cinema.

The collection: The Spirit of the Place

This original collection is dedicated to the history of the buildings which house the great museums of today. Italian-style presentation, which is especially well suited to architectural drawings.

The publication

64 pages 11 cm x 16.5 cm - bound

70 illustrations

price: 6 €

French edition

ISBN 2-915133-27-1 / 2-86656-377-8

English edition

ISBN 2-915133-36-0 / 2-86656-378-6

A co-publication by the musée du quai Branly and Scala

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Hugues Demeude is a free-lance journalist who writes for the press and publishers and produces audio-visual material.  He animates the architectural column in Citizen K. His latest book is about the bridges of Paris.