On a glorious October day, there is nothingmuch more pleasant in life than a stroll along the Seine in Paris, on Quai Branly by the ethnology museum of the same name. It houses the art and artifact of the civilizations of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
Even if you are not a devotee of anthropology, the pure daring, originality, and beauty of Jean Nouvel’s 21st century architecture is well worth a visit. Furthermore, it works. Once inside, the total sensorial experience guides you seamlessly through various dramatically lit exhibits, many in cubicles that jut out of the building itself, like cargo containers. You lose yourself, having checked at the door any extra baggage of what a museum should look like, and are now continents from the carnival fair that is the Eiffel tower, just one city block away.
Each odd year in the autumn, in front of the museum is PhotoQuai, the biennial outdoor exhibition of contemporary photography from around the world. Wall-size panels zigzag along the river bank, showing people and lives from faraway places – you are truly happy this is Paris. And if you are still game, cross the river on the pedestrian bridge nearby and go back one century to the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, dedicated to the art of the 20th century.
Maybe that should be for another day.