the bookshop also offers a selection of books that relate to each temporary exhibition, which will enable you to extend and deepen your visit.
east suspended gallery
3 February – 10 May 2009
curator : Philippe Peltier
Philippe Peltier is the head curator in charge of the Oceania-Insulindia Heritage Unit at the musée du quai Branly in Paris
The exhibition brings together the only known works to date from Mangareva, a small island in the Gambier Archipelago. There are a dozen statues, anthropomorphic or not, that have never been shown to the general public.
The exhibition is also the opportunity to view a society that is mainly unknown and to make the world aware of the richness and uniqueness of this island culture. For the Mangarevian people, it is also a way of finding its original gods and to revive its history.
Mangareva Island, and the small islands that surround it, form a group of high islands spread out inside the same lagoon that make up the Gambier Archipelago.
This one is isolated within the vastness of the Pacific : the closest lands are to the east, a few Tuamotu atolls.
Populated around the year 1,000 by Polynesians, the archipelago is probably originally from a migration to Rapa Nui Island (Easter Island). Discovered at the end of the 18th century by the missionary Wilson, the land of Mangareva would not be overrun by westerners until 1826 with the arrival of Beechey. Then there would follow the great missionary adventures of Fathers Laval and Caret, whose work would deeply affect the fate of the Mangarevians.
The end of the 19th century would announce the slow decline in the population, affected by all the evils of the exterior, especially diseases and alcohol.
The exhibition gives the opportunity for the public to rediscover this ancient society that in this day and age remains unknown.
To this day, a dozen artefacts relating to the sacred and ritual areas are known to us. These pieces, 11 statues – of figures that are totally or partially anthropomorphic – and 1 drum, are all retained in religious institutions or in museums. Some are only known to the general public by photographs; in fact, the majority are not in the permanent exhibitions in the museums that retain them.
The Mangareva exhibition brings them together and offers a totally new setting to date.