We Visit a Museum

photo, musee quai branly, seine side Two architectures, the new and the old.

Next Time, We Take a Flashlight

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Wednesday, 20. June:–  It was just like the old days. The recognition signal was a folded copy of the day's Financial Times. I saw Linda, the Server–Lady, and wondered why she was waving a National Geographic at me. She said she picked it up going out the door and I didn't connect the dots. While I puzzled, we got in the short line to get entry tickets to the Musée du Quai Branly.

This is the museum made for Jacques Chirac, the monument to his presidency, which has just ended. It was designed by the go–go architect of the moment, Jean Nouvel. Aside from vegetation on some walls, some glass walls, and a great amount of overhead structure, the most striking effect is the overhanging Tour Eiffel. I think we paid 8.50€ to see the permanent collection. A combo ticket to see both permanent and temporary exhibitions would have been 13€.

The entry is very zoomy. You walk up a curvy chute that rises and gets darker until you can't see much. This dimness turned out to be the museum's ambiant light. On the next visit I will take a flashlight. The museum contains the combined collections of the former Musée de l'Homme and Musée des Arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie, plus some new acquisitions. There are 3500 pieces on view, out of a 300,000 piece collection.

photo, entry, quai branly One of two entries.

Linda confided that she preferred to skim on a first visit. I prefer to skim on every visit unless I see something interesting. We followed the chute, or path, past many dim displays. It was narrow sometimes, and at other times it widened out to flow around displays, but it was dark everywhere. There are windows but they were shuttered. It was shadowy, dim and dark. Most cubicles were gloomy and small. I guess it had something to do with how one thinks of Africa but I thought it might have been a mistake. Didn't most folks live outside in the daylight?

The little signs posted by the objects were either difficult to decipher or impossible. Our skim became a flit. We missed learning about the café on the roof, and ended up in the one outside, underneath the body of the museum. It was resolutely modern in a minimum way. After a cool drink we got on the RER, to go the wrong way, then had to exit and re–enter. The barrier was defect and we got on. But it wrecked my ticket and I had to plead for mercy to get out at Denfert. I left my umbrella at the museum too.

photo, musee quai branly, veggie wallsGrass on some walls.

Musée du Quai Branly – Arts et Civilizations d'Afrique, d'Asie, d'Océanie et des Amériques. Quai Branly, or 222. rue de Lille, Paris 7. Métro: Alma–Marceau, or RER C, Pont–de–l'Alma. Open daily except Monday from 10;00 to 18:30, until 22:00 on Thursday. Closed 1. January and 1. May.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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