The masterpieces of the entire world are born free and equal.
It was in response to this manifesto, coined by the collector Jacques Kerchache in , that President Jacques Chirac decided to bring an ambitious project to a conclusion: that of gathering the French collections of the arts of non-European societies within a well-established institution. This was how 3500 masterpieces from Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Americas came to be presented to the Quai Branly Museum, among the 300000 objects that had been gathered there.
The Spirit of the Place - the Quai Branly Museum reminds us first of all of the project's genesis and the polemical debates that arose from it. Then it moves on to the different stages of the museum's construction, starting with the international architectural competition that was won by Jean Nouvel. It lies on the Left Bank of the River Seine, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, as a bridge structure, with curves and long lines, that was built to stand on legs fifteen metres above the ground, and bestrides a garden filled with dense vegetation designed by Gilles Clément. Twenty-nine coloured boxed of various dimensions are fixed to the main façade, and a living wall covers the administrative building on the Seine side. As for the collections, they are gathered within a single unpartitioned space, 210 m long.
This work employs drawings, photographs and models to reveal specific features of this architecture, which is dedicated to cultural encounters and is intended to serve as a centre for multiple activities, with its own media centre, theatre, temporary exhibitions and cinema.