The Musée du quai Branly, known in English as the Quai Branly Museum, nicknamed MQB, is a museum in Paris, France that features indigenous art, cultures and civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. The museum is located at 37, quai Branly - portail Debilly, 75007 Paris, France, situated close to the Eiffel Tower. It is named after its location (not after the physicist Édouard Branly).
A commission was established to study the feasibility of building the museum in 1995. When the study was concluded, land was reserved near the Eiffel Tower for the future museum. French President Jacques Chirac
was a very influential proponent of the project. Quai Branly opened on June 23
The building was designed by architect Jean Nouvel. The "living wall" (200m long by 12m tall) on part of the exterior of the museum was designed and planted by Gilles Clément and Patrick Blanc. The "living wall" at installation was quite healthy and vibrant, however, over time, the inadequate support system for the plants roots, irrigation and drainage have become visually evident. The museum complex contains several buildings, as well as a mediatheque and a garden.
The museum contains the collections of the now-closed Musée national des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie
and the ethnographic
department of the Musée de l'Homme
. The museum contains 267,000 objects in its permanent collection, of which 3,500 items from the collection are on display.
Australian Aboriginal artists
Australian indigenous artists represented at the Museum include Kathleen Petyarre
(Utopia), Paddy Bedford
(Warmun), John Mawurndjul
), Ningura Napurrula
), Lena Nyadbi
(Warmun), Michael Riley
(urban), Judy Watson
(urban), Tommy Watson
(Papunya) and Gulumbu Yunupingu
(Yirrkala). In the case of Ningura Napurrula, her signature black and white motif appear superimposed on the ceiling of the administration side of the museum's building.
Stéphane Martin, the director of the Quai Branly museum, has recently been involved in controversy over the return of Maori warrior heads held in France. This was brought up after a museum in Normandy France was doing a respectable gesture by returning this tattooed head of a Maori warrior. Since 1992, the Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand's national museum, has requested the return of Maori remains held around the world - which were a result of international body trafficking.
Unfortunately Christine Albanel, the culture minister stepped in to stop the return of human remains to its tribe in New Zealand.
Mr Martin boasted about holding four Maori heads in their collection and has refused to return these back to the New Zealand tribes and ideally to allow for proper burials. Stating "“They are stored in a very special area, and absolutely will not be put on public display”.
This goes against France’s bioethics law, that a body part must be returned to its place of origin.
Quai Branly has received criticism for a perceived reliance on visual appeal and theatrics, as opposed to explanation and context, in its exhibitions.
Australian Art Market Report Issue 23 Autumn 2007 Pages 32-34:
"Twelve months after the opening of Musée du quai Branly in Paris, journalist Jeremy Eccles takes a look at what effect, if any, the museum" (where contemporary Aboriginal art forms an integral part of the architectural structure) " has had on .... Aboriginal art"
In this article, he quotes Bernice Murphy - co-founder of the Sydney MCA and now National Director of Museums Australia and Chair of the Ethics Committee of the International Council of Museums. She told a Sydney symposium on 'Australian Arts in an International Context' that she found the whole of Quai Branly to be a "regressive museology" and the presentation of Aboriginal art "in a vegetal environment" to be "an exotic mise en scène" in the worst taste. "It can't be decontextualised into a glorious otherness"