L'esprit du lieu

Musée du quai Branly


“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 - Jacques Chirac's 300 000 artefacts.

The Spirit of the Place – the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac 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. 


64 pages • 16,5 x 11 cm • 6,50 €
Co-published by musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac / Scala
ISBN: 978-2866563776 / 978-2866563783