August 26, 2011
Quai Branly Musuem
Since it was opened on June 23, 2006, the Quai Branly Museum in Paris has been laden with controversy amongst its local both its national and international visitors.
Although unlike many entities bound in controversy become dogged with criticism and experience a rapid demise, the Musee Quai Branly’s controversy has aided its success and phenomenal popularity.
Controversy often sparks intrigue, especially within the world of art. Much of the Quai Branly Museum’s contents are items plundered from France’s colonial conquest, which many believe, should be returned to their country of origin.
The ‘artistic -ness’ of the museum’s contents and displays are also put in question, with even the Branly’s curators referring to the artefacts and displays as “objects” to convey that the pieces were not necessarily intended as pieces of art but rather for utilitarian and sacred uses, such as the Branly’s headdresses from Alaska, statues from Nigeria, its Djennenke statue from the 10th or 11th century pre-Drogon Mali era, and its Indian ornamental wear.
Although it is not just the Musee Quai Branly’s contents that have been doused in criticism, as the curators have been criticised for placing a too heavy dependence on ‘aesthetic appeal’, namely being committed to extreme lighting rather than accurate descriptions of its content.
Another criticism of the Musee Quai Branly is that the main building, which was designed by the critically-acclaimed French architect Jean Nouvel, who was awarded with the highly prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture for designing the Institute du Monde Arabe, is considered by some to be monstrous.
The huge four-building complex sits on stilts resonant of the Seine, and is scattered with 30 multi-coloured cubes randomly protruding from the exterior walls. Inside the museum each exhibition is meticulously placed inside a brightly coloured box suspended from the air.
The Musee Quai Branly also features a bookshop, theatre and a café and a rooftop restaurant the latter overlooking picturesque gardens and the Eiffel Tower.
Whether you like its flamboyant, colourful ans unique design or dislike it, this year the Musee Quai Branly is celebrating its sixth year, and with more than 1,300,000 visitors every year, it is hard to deny that the Branly has become one of Paris’s most popular cultural spots, and that sometimes controversy does pay off.