The Ancient Kanak People Honored at the Musée du Quai Branly

The Ancient Kanak People Honored at the Musée du Quai Branly

Every day at the Musée du Quai Branly, Parisians get to explore diverse cultures from distant times and places. This museum, dedicated to primitive and indigenous art, possesses an impressive number of pieces from the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania, which make up its permanent collection. In addition, a new exhibition, entitled ‘Kanak, l’art est une parole’ (‘Kanak, Art Is a Word’), is bringing another culture into the walls of the museum.

This exhibition explores the indigenous population of New Caledonia, called the Kanak people. Through 300 objects — many of which have never been displayed in a museum before — the Musée du Quai Branly presents a culture that has almost been forgotten despite its presence in daily life in New Caledonia.

The collection displayed during the ‘Kanak’ exhibition is the result of 2o years of anthropological and historical research on this indigenous people. The work was led by both European museums and New Caledonian institutions, and it included gathering, restoring and archiving the Kanak heritage.

In order to fully understand the Kanak history, notably in the context of French colonization, the exhibition approaches the Kanak people from two different angles. One vision involves the development of the Kanak culture in and of itself while the other vision reveals the reaction of Europeans to the discovery of New Caledonia.

In this way, guests staying at the Hôtel de la Tour Maubourg can explore the Kanak people, whose ancient origins suggest that they first appeared on the island of New Calendonia around 1100 B.C. This population has therefore been a part of history for thousands of years.