The author of the construction project is Jean Nouvel. This is his third museum in Paris - after the complex of the Institute of the Arab World and the Gallery of the Cartier Foundation.
At the same time, it is the first major museum built there since the opening of the Pompidou Center. As the latter became a monument to President Georges Pompidou, and the Louvre Pyramid, the Opera Bastille, the Grande Arche of the La Défense district and the new National Library remind of François Mitterrand, so the new museum will be an iconic structure of Jacques Chirac's time. At least this is what the French president himself hopes for: the Quai Branly Museum is his brainchild, conceived back in 1996. In 1998, a site was selected for construction - on the prestigious left bank of the Seine, not far from the Eiffel Tower.
In the international competition in 1999, in which almost all the stars of world architecture took part - Lord Foster, Tadao Ando, Rem Koolhaas, MVRDV, Renzo Piano - her own French celebrity Nouvelle won, who was entrusted with creating an exhibition space in the center of Paris, which would eliminate the inequality that has always existed in the exhibiting of non-Western art in France. It should be noted that under this program Chirac ordered the Louvre to exhibit 100 works of art from Africa, Asia, Oceania and America in its Pavillon des Sessions.
The project of the Quai Branly Museum, which took 11 years and 232 million euros to implement, should serve as a “humanist appeal for respect for diversity and dialogue of cultures”, against the “arrogance and ethnocentrism” of European museums; it should become a winning exhibition space for the "forgotten civilizations" of the world.
The museum complex of four buildings is inscribed in the traditional development of residential buildings from the era of Baron Ossman. From above, it resembles a landed spacecraft, which is supported by 10-meter supports. It is separated from the embankment by a glass wall and a park. The river-facing façade (the main exhibition hall, almost 200 m long, is hidden behind it) is defined by the cubic volumes of the smaller exhibition rooms protruding from it, painted on the outside in bright colors. The rear façade is covered with imitation rust-colored metal shutters. The front wall of the museum (behind it the administrative building is hidden) is a "vertical garden" with an area of 800 sq. m, where plants of 150 different species are planted, fixed in a non-woven polyamide material. Shoots even penetrate the inside of the building, creeping along the walls. According to Nouvel, the surrounding garden and the green wall should serve as symbols of the forest, the river, and evoke thoughts of death and oblivion. The building of the workshops is a rectangular glass volume with a light pattern, reminiscent of the works of Australian Aborigines, on the facade.
Inside, the visitor enters from the lobby, where a totem pole of North American Indians from British Columbia, 14 m high, is displayed at the base of a glass tower, which houses an exposition of musical instruments of different peoples. He then ascends to its summit along a white spiral ramp reminiscent of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. From there, the entrance to the main hall opens. All of its exhibition space is designed as a single room, where showcases with exhibits are arranged. This makes it possible for each visitor to choose the route of the inspection himself.
Of the 300,000 exhibits that were transferred to the new institute from the Paris Museum of Man and the Palais de la Porte Doré, 3,500 are shown at a time, and they occupy only half of the exhibition space: the second will be used for temporary exhibitions.
The Quai Branly Museum will attract not only tourists, but also Parisians, in particular students and researchers, for whom there are study rooms and a library.