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Practice : Fall 2008
In October, e Boston Architec- tural College welcomed Stéphane Martin, President of the Musée du Quai Branly for a special lecture that examined one of the most ambitious and controversial museums to open in Paris for the past years. e lecture was organized by the French Library Alliance Française in partnership with the BAC, and with the support of la Delegation générale de l'Alliance Francaise de Paris aux Etats-Unis. Falling within the framework of great cultural projects, the Quai Branly Museum is the only museum to have been built in Paris for years. is architectural project is atypical and breaks with a certain Parisian architectural conser vatism. e work of French architect Jean Nouvel responds to speci c demands in terms of image, identity, accessibility, and inclusion in the urban landscape. Located within the shadow of the Ei el Tower, it plays on the emotions and the feeling of being transported to unfamiliar lands. e diversity of the edi ces, the care given to the way visitors pass through the exhibit areas, and the attention devoted to the spatial situations create an architecture which is completely at odds with the traditional codes of a museum. Martin spoke of the Museum's devotion to the enhancement and preser vation of the collections entrusted to it---a brilliant merging of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. In a city rich with history and art, the Museum nds itself at the center of an intellectual and cultural dialogue. It represents a new type of cultural and research center: museum, cultural center, and research and teaching facility all built into one extraordinary building. And it speaks to cultural identity and responsibility on the historic and global levels. In conjunction with Stéphane Martin's lecture was e McCor- mick Gallery exhibition Form Follows Ritual. All artwork was provided courtesy of the Hamill Gallery of African Art, Boston and Rand African Art, Boston. e exhibition wove together the cultural fabrics of Western and Central Africa. From masks and headdresses to iron currencies, the functional, multipurpose objects exempli ed complex customs in simplistic design. ey re ected the unique artistic capacities of their tribes to manifest identity through abstract forms and elaborate ritual. Together, these art forms created a visual language that spoke to the past and present, and created a timelessness to both tradition and tribe. Cultured Construction of the Musée du Quai Branly In a city rich with history and ar t, the Parisian museum finds itself at the center of an intellectual and cultural dialogue. NEWSWORTHY ] MUSÉE DU QUAI BRANLY left to right: Lightings in the museum's gardens; front entrance to the museum PRACTICE 20