“France is never greater than when it engages with other cultures, other people. It’s a strong message and one that is very relevant now.” declared Bernadette Chirac, wife of former French president, at the 10 year anniversary celebration of Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac earlier this year. This week cultural diversity engages with another sort of diversity during the museum’s “Accessibility Week”. Starting on Saturday December 3 the Semaine de l’accessibilité continues until Sunday December 11 2016. Visitors with or without a handicap are invited to explore the civilizations of Africa, Oceania, Asia and the Americas through a variety of inclusive events.
Carnet de Voyage
We signed up for a workshop that proposed to visit the museum’s collection from four continents then create a souvenir in the form of a travel journal. Our “guide” met us in one of the lower level classrooms and explained the theme, protection, for our visit. Setting out on a treasure hunt for objects from different countries believed to have various protective powers in their culture, we marked our maps with each find. She gave our son photos to help identify artifacts used to ward off perceived evil spirits, amulets to prevent actual illnesses or promote good health and benevolent spirits. Engaging our senses, she pulled perfumes, semi-precious stones, and other delights from her bag for him to smell or hold while sharing a story. At one point she related the similarity between the “gri-gri ” of one culture with our son’s attachment to fetish objects. Throughout the nearly two hours, she addressed our son with respect and though he is non verbal, she assumed he understood. Back in the classroom, an array of materials (paint, colored pencils, feathers) permitted each person to craft his Travel Journal. The workshop ended with a ceremony, practiced in Laos, where each person creates a bracelet then ties it to their neighbor’s wrist symbolising the ties of a community which create a sense of belonging. As we parted, she expressed a sincere desire for society to go beyond awareness and acceptance of difference to recognize the value each person contributes. We certainly felt richer after this exchange. In some cultures, she added, he might be a highly considered Shaman.
To continue the reflection along this line there are two round table discussions scheduled this week which will be the subject of my next post. Descriptions and photos of the remainder of the week’s programming can be found on the museum’s website by clicking on the right. Guided tours for teens on the theme of “difference” and how it is perceived in other cultures, narrated tours with a costumed storyteller, songs and games for children on the theme of Oceania, creative workshops such as “Paint your Dreams”, music performances and scented journeys are among the offerings. All activities are free and open to all ages and abilities. Some are for specific age groups while others are for specific groups such as french sign language users. What was your favorite souvenir of the museum? Comment below.
Click on the program for specific dates and times between 12/3-12/11 from 11am to 7pm. Tours and workshops are free but sur inscription meaning you must reserve by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01.56.61.53.18. All other events are accès libre, also free, but space is limited so plan to arrive early. Groups may reserve activities or tours from Wednesday December 5, 2016 to Saturday December 10, 2016. Email email@example.com or call 01.56.61.71.72
The Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac is located at 37 Quai Branly 75007 Paris. The main entrance is opposite the Debilly footbridge along the Seine River. There are two other entrances at 222 (physically disabled only) and 218 rue de l’Université. All entrances lead through the museum’s garden. Follow the red tactile path from any entrance to the museum building’s door. To get there:
Bus: Line 42 is the closest 63, 80,92 are a short walking distance, 72 is across the footbridge
RER C: Pont de l’Alma
Batobus: Eiffel Tower stop on the Seine River
Metro: Bir Hakeim (line 6) Ecole Militaire (line 8) across the Seine Alma-Marceau (line 9)
All three metro stops are at least 10 minutes walk from the entrance
Car: The map shows street parking spaces for vehicles displaying a handicap sticker and the parking garage