Page 81

european museums in the 21st century: setting the framework (vol. 2) — 371

Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration–CNHI National Centre for Immigration History–CNHI, Paris, France

The Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration is located in the Palais de la Porte Dorée, built in 1931 for the Colonial Exhibition. Since then, the building hosted the Musée des Colonies, later called Musée d’Outre-Mer, then Musée des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie (the scientific design of the latter was by Georges Henri Rivière). A typical Art Déco example, it is decorated by frescoes by Pierre Ducos de la Haille and bas-reliefs by Alfred Janniot. The iconographic program of the building illustrates the exchanges between France and its colonies ( Janniot’s basrelief façade describes the colonies’ economic contribution to France, while the Salle des Fêtes’ frescoes describe the opposite process). On the ground floor there is an Aquarium, a ticket office and a bookshop shared by the two institutions, and the huge “Salle des Fêtes” or ‘Party Hall’ dedicated to art projects often commissioned by the CNHI itself, or to public conferences, presentations or celebrations. The exhibition rooms are located on the first and second floors. Prior to the opening of the CNHI, the institution developed a participatory policy with the aim of involving institutions, the cultural world and activists, as well as creating a collection (the museum had no collection: the works of art were bought on the way, while the documents were partly donated by privates and partly found in archives). The Cité’s vocation, in fact, is not to be a research centre itself, but instead to work as a collector, a catalyst, and a place where researchers meet both at a national and at an international level, as is the case of the Cité de la Musique and of the Cité la Science. Beyond the permanent exhibition, a rich program of temporary exhibitions is also at the heart of the CNHI’s mission: among the more recent we recall “J’ai deux amours” (November 2011–June 2012); “Migrants en Guyane. Pho-

tographies de Frédéric Piantoni” (February– May 2012); “Vies d’exil—1954–1962. Des Algériens en France pendant la guerre d’Algérie” (October 2012–May 2013). Part of the Cité is also the Abdelmalek Sayad Library and Archive, whose catalogue can be browsed online. It contains 20,000 documents. Educational activity is at the core of the Cité’s mission. Part of it is a literary contest, the socalled UniverCité (a popular university organizing conferences and workshops, often linked to the activity of the bimonthly magazine Hommes et Migrations, published by the Cité itself ), the presence of performance art (music, dance…), video and film projections, workshops with artists and educators for all kinds of public, literary cafés on Saturday afternoons, guided tours both at the museum and at the building. The website is extremely rich in documents and has a very useful section for teachers. The film Deux siècles d’histoire de l’immigration en France can be seen here. ææ the past and the contemporary

The first project for an immigration museum to be built in Paris dates from 1976. This project, presented by the Office National de Promotion Culturelle des Immigrés (National Office for the Cultural Promotion of Immigrants), was confirmed by the socialist government in 1983 also thanks to the appointment of the historian Gérard Noiriel. In 1990, the Association pour un Musée de l’Immigration, created by a group of historians and activists, among them Noiriel, took charge. Some associations of immigrants and of activists worked under the same management since the end of the eighties, trying to draw the public attention to the rediscovery of migration history, seen as a common heritage. Following the interest demonstrated by Lionel Jospin, in 2002 President Jacques Chi-

Profile for POLITECNICO DI MILANO-DPA

European Museums in the 21st Century: Setting the Framework - Vol. 2  

This book grew out of the earliest work of the MeLa Research Field 6, “Envisioning 21st Century Museums,” aimed at exploring current trends...

European Museums in the 21st Century: Setting the Framework - Vol. 2  

This book grew out of the earliest work of the MeLa Research Field 6, “Envisioning 21st Century Museums,” aimed at exploring current trends...

Advertisement