Our exhibition begins in the 1850s. However, we are starting in the middle of a long story: by the mid-nineteenth century, museums were already a rich feature of modern capital cities, such as London and Paris.
For example, ethnographic collections in Paris travelled across different museums. In 1850, a Musée Mexicain opened at the Louvre, and the following year it was renamed as the 'Musée Américain du Louvre'. After initial success, however, these collections were gradually moved elsewhere, until the Musée Américain closed in 1870. In 1878, a limited (at first) musée ethnographique opened at the Palais du Trocadéro, while another Galerie ethnographique existed in the Musée de l’Artillerie. Four years after the first ethnographical display in the Trocadero, in 1882, the Musée d'Ethnographie officially opened, directed by Ernest-Théodore Hamy.
By looking at some objects and their histories, we will see how their trajectories encountered different people, collections and institutions. The objects below are now in the collections of the Musée du quai Branly, and have had different exciting journeys across Paris' collections.