The Musée de l’Homme is located within the prestigious Palais de Chaillot, at Place du Trocadéro, a Parisian hotspot for culture and tourism.
A historic building
The Palais de Chaillot is the result of two overlapping architectural structures: two palaces designed for the universal exhibitions of 1878 and 1937. Both were commissioned with the same goal in mind: to create spectacular buildings.
In 1878, the Chaillot hill was incorporated into the perimeters of the universal exhibition. The construction of an atypical palace in the Hispano-Moresque style was entrusted to the architect Gabriel Davioud, who engaged the services of the engineer Jules Bourdais. The building would only last 58 years, its exuberant style quickly falling out of fashion shortly after its completion. Preparations for the universal exhibition of 1937 would soon be its undoing.
Due to lack of time and money, Davioud’s building was only partially demolished and was soon camouflaged by a new palace entrusted to the winners of a building competition, architects Jacques Carlu, Léon Azéma and Louis-Hippolyte Boileau. The most visible part, the central rotunda with its belvederes, was removed, leaving an open space overlooking the Champ-de-Mars. While the general shape of the building was retained, Carlu’s larger structure enveloped the wings and called for enlarged entry and exit pavilions. As a result, Davioud’s skylight, which covers the main pavilion of the Passy wing, was preserved but hidden by the new structure. This was a project of colossal proportions, carried out in 18 months, interrupted by strikes in 1936. The new building did not fail to impress by its sheer monumentality and regular features, and became a landmark of the Parisian cityscape. The Musée de l’Homme was set up in this building in 1938.
Today, the Palais de Chaillot houses four cultural institutions: the north-east wing (the Paris wing) is home to the Cité de l’architecture (Architectural museum), the south-west wing (the Passy wing) houses the Musée national de la Marine (National Naval Museum) and the Musée de l’Homme. The palace’s two wings frame the Esplanade des Libertés et des Droits de l’Homme, one of the most popular places in the capital due to its view of the Eiffel Tower and the Champ-de-Mars. The Théâtre national de Chaillot (Chaillot National Theatre) is found between the two wings and beneath the forecourt.
Distribution of the museum spaces
In 2015, the interior of the building housing the Musée de l’Homme was refurbished and the spaces were reconfigured to accommodate:
- the general public in a museum with permanent and temporary exhibition galleries and outreach areas;
- 150 researchers and their students in facilities including offices, study rooms, classrooms, technological platforms, storage vaults for the collections and a research library.
These various spaces are split across 4 levels:
- Galerie de l'Homme: 2,800 sq.m.
- Temporary exhibitions: 600 sq.m. (3 spaces of 200 sq.m.)
- Reception, outreach, events: 871 sq.m. (including the Jean Rouch Auditorium: 152 seats, educational rooms: 180 sq.m., Centre de Ressources Germaine Tillion: 104 sq.m., Balcon des sciences: 330 sq.m.)
- Specific areas dedicated to research and study: 1,915 sq.m. (including teaching areas: 180 sq.m., laboratories/scientific platforms: 270 sq.m.)
- Collections: 1,190 sq.m.
- Yvonne Oddon Research Library: 278 sq.m.
- Offices (administration and research): 1,465 sq.m.
- irculation, miscellaneous: 3,700 sq.m.
In yellow: private areas
n orange: areas open to the public