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rac created a specific committee inside the ADRI-Agence pour le Developpement des Relations Interculturelles (Agency for the Development of Intercultural Relations), and charged Jacques Toubon to design what at that time was called Centre de ressources et de mémoire sur l’immigration (Resource and Memory on Immigration Centre). The project was officially launched by JeanPierre Raffarin, who on the occasion of the presentation announced the choice of the Palais de la Porte Dorée as the location of the new museum, which since then took its present name. The riots in the Paisian suburbs (2005) demonstrated the failure of the adopted policies until that moment and aroused a reflection on the nature of multicultural societies and on integration strategies. That same year, the necessity to read France’s colonial history anew became evident: the appeal entitled Nous sommes tous indigènes de la République (We all are Republic natives) was published on the internet and had a huge echo. The same year, protests against the law asking to underline in school programs the positive role played in the overseas colonies blew; meanwhile, activists asked for the institution of a Memorial Day commemorating slavery. Slowly, a series of claims appeared which seemed to be parallel or juxtaposed, when not competing. The different “heritages” seemed in conflict, almost in competition with each other. In 2007, a group of historian members of the scientific committee left the group, protesting the restrictive policies concerning immigration in France, and maybe also not agreeing on some points concerning the cultural direction undertaken by the project. Nevertheless, the restoration and requalification works, directed by Patrick Bouchain and Loïc Julienne from the Paris-based Construire, chosen in the consultation organised by the Direction des Musées de France in 2005, continued and the Cité opened its doors on 9th October, 2007.

Both for its content and the choice of the location, since the beginning the museum aroused

bitter controversy, and it was often criticised. The fact that it was never inaugurated by President Sarkozy or any of his delegates was interpreted by many as a political choice. Director, Luc Gruson in 2011 wrote: “The lack of inauguration meant for some people lack of recognition. For others, on the contrary, this meant that the institution might somehow ‘disturb’. But most of the French simply never heard about it, and it is true that the lack of a political message at the moment of opening, cast a doubt on the ‘legitimisation’ project sent by the museum.” It must be stressed that between October, 2010 and January, 2011 the Cité was occupied by 500 sans papiers (undocumented people), who recognised in it the right place to express their demands. The exhibition areas are quite rigid, since the rooms are located around two huge, full-height spaces, symmetrical in respect to the entrance, following the idea of alignment, monumentality and rhythm, typical of the time when it was built.

The first space the visitor meets, on the upper floor, has the function of a historic and general preamble. It is occupied by three metallic volumes, hung from the ceiling, designed to be looked at from below. Each of them is dedicated to a subject—migrations on a world scale, migrations towards France and the distribution of migrants in the country—and chronologically articulated in four steps, from the turn of the XX Century up to today. Through maps (also published on the website: www.histoireimmigration.fr/histoire-de-l-immigration/ questions-contemporaines/cartes), the visitor gets the basic information. In the same space the visitor is given the audio guides that are necessary to listen to the stories disseminated along the way. Here starts the permanent exhibition, called “Repères” (points of reference). Here, the documents belong to three macro-typologies: anthropologic documents (interviews, first-hand stories), historic (handwritten or published texts, books, leaflets, posters, historical synthesis in a touch-screen form) and artistic (photography and works of art).

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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...

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