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Musee du Quai Branly Opens 2006-06-20

Posted by clype in Europe, Humanities, Intolerance.
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[Picture of the museum]French President Mr.Jacques Chirac[Picture of Jacques Chirac] has unveiled his legacy to the nation — a 260 million EUR (180 million GBP) riverside museum in the shadow of Paris’s ‘Eiffel Tower’.

The museum displays indigenous art from Africa, Asia and Australasia.

But the project has been controversial; it opens as France debates how to heal the scars of its colonial past and accept a multi-ethnic nation.

U.N. Secretary General Mr.Kofi Annan[Picture of Kofi Annan] was among the guests at the inauguration ofThe Musee du Quai Branly.

Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, the premier of the Canadian territory of Nunavut, Paul Okalik, and French Prime Minister Mr.Dominique de Villepin also attended the opening.

  • The museum officially opens to the public on 2006-06-23.

CULTURAL DIVERSITY

The museum, on the banks of the River Seine, has been a decade in the making. The artefacts going on display range from masks and spears from Papua New Guinea to costumes from Vietnam and Thailand.

The building combines angular glass walls with futuristic cubes of bright colour and, outside, a green wall of thick vegetation, suggestive of a forest or a jungle.

The museum was designed by French architect Mr.Jean Nouvel, [Picture of Jean Nouvel]and is meant to be President Chirac’s legacy after nearly 12 years in office.

Its curators say the museum is a celebration of cultural diversity, a way of showing how Europe has interacted with other civilisations.

Most museums normally chart their country’s history — they do not usually look at other countries’ history, says Museum President Mr.Stephane Martin.

‘It is the first time that a great country gives itself a great institution not to speak about itself, but not to hide the history of its relationship to others,’ he told French radio.

COLONIAL HISTORY

Critics say the museum does not do enough to explain to visitors the damage done by colonialism to many of those cultures.

Most of the 300 000 artefacts were brought to France from its former colonies.

Some historians and human rights groups say the display perpetuates the old colonialist view of Africa or Asian culture as more primitive than European civilisation.

However, the aboriginal artists who contributed their works to the museum disagree.

They say they see President Chirac’s project as a good way to bring continents and cultures together.

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