Musée du quai Branly

Paris, France


Musée du Quai Branly is an ethno-anthropological museum that focuses on the cultures of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Ateliers Jean Nouvel was architect and exhibition designer for the museum, which opened in 2006. In 2014 the museum invited a select few companies to submit proposals for a renovation of the East Silo, which had developed mechanical difficulties in the two-story high cases that comprise the structure. Goppion secured the commission to engineer, fabricate, and install replacement faces for the East Silo vitrine that were fully respectful of and coherent with Jean Nouvel’s original design.

The architecture and exhibition design

The East Silo is a monumental vitrine that vertically spans 2 floors, enclosing the museum’s technical core. In Ateliers Jean Nouvel’s original design, the partial opening between the first and second levels affords visitors an unobstructed view of the entire height of the vitrine. The first level of the East Silo hosts permanent exhibits from the museum’s collections from the Americas. The upper levels are devoted to temporary exhibitions.

The display cases

The original case doors 24 millimeters thick, over 4 meters tall, and weighing more than 480 kilos each had been manufactured by the original producer using components that proved incapable of handling the heavy loads and were awkward to operate manually. Furthermore, the old doors opened via a metal crankcase located between the two levels, which obstructed the continuous view from floor to floor, and were not airtight. Goppion applied its aesthetic and engineering expertise to resolve these problems. We developed a pantograph-operated pull & slide opening system capable of moving the heavy replacement glass doors of the East Silo. The new mechanism not only smoothly and safely opens the doors, but also grants museum staff easy access to the display areas. Furthermore, Goppion’s design fully respectful of Nouvel’s original vision conceals all of the opening mechanisms in and behind the case doors, eliminating the external crankcase and thus opening up sightlines to the entire two-level glass structure from above and below. Goppion also designed and built new shelves, supports and panels inside the cases: these interior fittings can be easily reconfigured, an especially important feature for the temporary exhibitions on the upper level. Goppion also rethought the lighting, replacing the externally mounted spotlights with a custom-designed LED system concealed in easily accessible compartments above and below each display. The new lighting eliminates glare and allows boththe intensity and direction of the case’s interior lighting to be adjusted. Goppion’s intervention made the large vitrine of the East Silo a more functional and flexible instrument for presentation and conservation.