This exhibition has ended

From 13th March 2019 to 9 March 2020

From prehistory to the present day, discover the variety of piercing traditions and practices around the world.

Opening times

The event has ended

Open daily except on tuesdays

From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Last tickets sold 45 minutes before closing.

Target public

From 12 years old

Getting here

Musée de l'Homme

17 Place du Trocadéro
75016 Paris


From €9 to €12

The exhibition

© fonds Laura Sonnino Jannelli
© fonds Laura Sonnino Jannelli

Piercing offers an anthropological perspective on piercing. Combining artistic representations, prehistoric objects, photographs and jewellery, the exhibition presents piercing practices for 45,000 years. Different traditions will be discussed: from the Kayapos of Brazil to the Dayaks of Borneo, from the "Modern Primitives" in the United States to contemporary uses.

Finding the skin and placing a visible object on it is a practice that dates back to prehistoric times and has been found on every continent, a practice that has continued to this day. These changes in the body take on various meanings: belonging to a group, rites of passage, signs of prestige or marks of infamy, signs of submission, beauty and strength.

If in Europe only the earring seems to have crossed the ages to become a well-established tradition, today the Westerners have adopted new fashions and use the whole body as a means of expression.

Starting in libertarian California in the 1970s, the renewal of this ancestral practice was inspired by precursors who sought to liberate the body. Defining themselves as "Primitive Modern", they reinvent and reinterpret practices in a new context where piercing is now performed in sterile and controlled conditions. This is how the first piercing studio was created in 1975.

Initially reserved for emerging subcultures (gay, punk, SM), this practice will gradually spread to the whole of society and impose itself on a global scale thanks to a phenomenon of imitation, supported by the rise of the Internet, and now impose itself under a globalized name: piercing.

Project Leader: Alexis Amen
Scientific Commissioner: Franz Manni