Leslie Camhi
April 06, 2009

Rising in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, Jean Nouvel's sweeping Musée du Quai Branly (222 Rue de l'Université; 33-1/56-61-70-00; www.quaibranly.fr)—devoted to the art of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the South Pacific—opens this month. An exterior wall is covered in 150 exotic plant species, but the real eclecticism is inside, where ancient Olmec statuettes, Tuareg leatherwork, and aboriginal bark paintings are on display.

Quai Branly Museum

Just 100 meters from the Eiffel Tower, the Quai Branly Museum draws crowds to its treasure trove of ethnic art. Opened in 2006, the Jean Nouvel-designed complex contains four buildings, with the main one sitting on stilts and adorned with a protruding jumble of 30 colorful cubes. Abundant plant life thrives not only on-site, but on the building itself. Bamboo replaces louvered windows and vegetation fully covers exterior walls with 15,000 plants from 150 different species. A large Native American totem pole anchors the vast interior atrium, which gives way to a myriad of 5,450 displayed pieces of primitive art from Africa, Oceania, Asia, and the Americas.

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