Quai Branly Museum

France Go Full Screen

Presence-Absence or Selective Dematerialisation

This is a museum built around a specific collection, where everything is designed to evoke an emotional response to the primary object, to protect it from light, but also to capture that rare ray of light indispensable to make it vibrate and awaken its spirituality. In a place inhabited by symbols of forests and rivers, by obsessions of death and oblivion, it is an asylum for censored and cast off works from Australia and the Americas. It is a loaded place haunted with dialogues between the ancestral spirits of men, who, in discovering their human condition, invented gods and beliefs. It is a place that is unique and strange, poetic and unsettling.
Its architecture must challenge our current Western creative expressions. Away, then, with the structures, mechanical systems, with curtain walls, with emergency staircases, parapets, false ceilings, projectors, pedestals, showcases. If their functions must be retained, they must disappear from our view and our consciousness, vanish before the sacred objects so we may enter into communion with them. This is, of course easy to say but difficult to achieve...
The resulting architecture has an unexpected character. Is it an archaic object? A regression? No, quite the contrary, for in order to obtain this result the most advanced techniques are used: windows are very large and very transparent, and often printed with huge photographs; tall randomly-placed pillars could be mistaken for trees or totems; the wooden sunscreens support photovoltaic cells. The means are unimportant- it is the results that count: what is solid seems to disappear, giving the impression that the museum is a simple façade-less shelter in the middle of a wood. When dematerialization encounters the expression of signs, it becomes selective; here illusion cradles the work of art.
All that remains is to invent the poetry of the site by a gentle discrepancy: a Parisian garden becomes a sacred wood, with a museum dissolving in its depths.
Jean Nouvel

STATUS Built. Inaugurated in 2006
LOCATION Quai Branly, Paris, France
Competition: Project submitted on November 3rd 1999, winner announced on December 8th 1999
Studies: January 2000 to September 2002 (including the consultation phase)
Building work: (excluding special foundations) December 2002 to June 2006
ARCHITECT ASSIGNMENT Lead firm and project manager for building design and construction (including museography, lighting, signposting, furnishings and landscaping).
CLIENT Public Etablissement public du Musée du Quai Branly
Car park concession: SAEMES
Catering concession: ELIANCE
Bookshop concession: Réunion des Musées Nationaux
ARCHITECT Jean Nouvel - Ateliers Jean Nouvel
Competition phase: Françoise RAYNAUD
Study phase: Françoise RAYNAUD & Didier BRAULT
Site phase: Isabelle GUILLAUIC & Didier BRAULT
Study phase: Frédéric Boilevin, Michel Calzada, Cyril Desroche, Sylvie Erard, Edwin Herkens, Gerd Kaiser, Roland Pellerin, Afid Rakem, Pierre Truong.
Site phase: Jalil Amor, Gian Luca Ferrarini, Laure Frachet, Nick Gilliland, Karine Jeannot, Freddy Laun, Jeremy Lebarillec, Philippe Monteil, Eric Pannetier, Florence Rabiet, Sophie Redele, Erwan Saliva, Andrès Souza Blanès y Cortès.
-Museography architects:
Study phase: Reza Azard, Frédéric Casanova, Mia Hagg, Eric Nespoulous, Matthias Raash
Site phase: Reza Azard, Jérémy LeBarillec
Study phase: François Xavier Bourgeois, Jérémy Lebarillec, Marie Najdovski, Bertrand Voiron.
Site phase: Aurélien Barbry, Frédéric Imbert, Jérémy LeBarillec, Sabrina Letourneur, Eric Nespoulous
GRAPHICS Natalie Saccu de Franchi
Museum: Reference collections: 4,900 sq m, 4,000 works shown, "dossiers" mezzanine: 670 sq m, "thematic" mezzanine: 800 sq m, multimedia mezzanine: 195 sq m, Reserves: 300,000 objects
Temporary exhibitions: Large gallery: 1,500 sq m, small gallery: 640 sq m
Media library, teaching and research: Reading room seating 220 (open access to 20,000 books), rare collection room seating 14, new publications room seating 52 (open access to 5,000 books), classrooms seating 55, discovery workshops seating 50, study rooms seating 26. Media library reserves: 180,000 books and 350,000 documents (photos, recordings, etc.)
Auditorium: Main room: 500 seats (conferences, screenings, performing arts), Projection room: 100 seats, Open-air theater: 150 seats
Administration: Branly, Auvent and Université buildings: 250 workstations, restoration workshops and book workshop.
Catering: Terrace restaurant: 130 indoor seats, Garden café: 80 indoor seats, Bar in the auditorium foyer, Staff restaurant: 80 seats
Car park: 521 vehicles
Bookshop: 250 sq m
Garden: 18,000 sq m, 169 trees, 886 shrubs and 74,200 ferns and grasses
Specific features:
Glass palissade : 220 m long x 12 m high, Musical instruments tower : 23 meter-high elliptical glass cylinder containing the ethnomusicology collection reserves (8,000 instruments), Museum entrance ramp : 180 m long with a 3 to 5% slope, Serpent : 252 m of museographic furnishings including multimedia facilities, Vegetal wal : 800 sq m outside and 150 sq m inside, 150 varieties, 15,000 plants, Terrace : 2,500 sq m at a height of 22 m
LAND 25,100 sq m
Australian artists in the Université building: Paddy Bedford, Michael Riley, John Mawurndjul, Judy Watson, Tommy Watson, Ningura Napurrula, Gulumbu Yunupingu, Lena Nyadbi
Curtains, auditorium and temporary exhibitions: Naoki Takizawa pour Issey Miyake
Museum entrance ramp: Trinh. T. Minh-Ha
Garden east window: New Zeland
​MODELS Jean Louis Courtois, Etienne Follenfant