At the beginning of the 21st century, due to the restructuring of the national ethnography collections, the scientific and cultural project of the Musée de l’Homme was completely rethought. In 2009, a renovation project was established, which lead to the reopening of the museum in October 2015.
Reconfiguring the Musée de l’Homme: 2003-2015
In the 1990s, the Musée de l’Homme was involved in a political and general cultural decision according to which indigenous art—more specifically African, Oceanian, American and Asian indigenous art—lacked a prominent place among French museums. In 1996, a government commission under President Chirac proposed that the collections of the Musée de l’Homme’s ethnology laboratory and those of the national African and Oceanic arts museum (Musée national des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie) be brought together under a single museum of humankind and indigenous art (the Musée de l’Homme et des Arts premiers). Originally, the idea was that the new museum would be housed within the walls of the Musée de l’Homme and the neighbouring National Marine Museum. Eventually it was decided that a new museum, the Quai Branly Museum, would be built instead. At the same time, the project for the MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations) got the go-ahead, and the national collections of European ethnography were gathered together, including those of the Musée de l’Homme as of 2005. In 2013, the MuCEM opened in Marseille.
In July 2008, following a proposal by Valérie Pécresse, then French Minister of higher education and research, the government committed to the renovation of the Musée de l’Homme—the MNHN site located at the Palais Chaillot. Starting in 2009, movers replaced the visitors at the Musée de l’Homme. As soon as the museum closed, the works began. The undertaking affected a certain number of people from the MNHN’s “Prehistory” and “Humans, Nature, Societies” departments. The teams moved to the Jardin des Plantes where they were able to continue their research and educational activities. The collections were also transferred. A large part of them remained available for study, and the renovation works provided an opportunity to work on the collections as well.
The newly renovated Musée de l’Homme: 2015
The renovated Musée de l’Homme, inaugurated in 2015, aims to promote a better understanding of human evolution and societies using an approach that combines biological, social and cultural criteria. Its approach spans the earliest days of humanity to our contemporary societies and what they mean for the future of humankind. As a museum devoted to the diffusion of knowledge and public discussion, the new Musée de l’Homme houses vast public spaces dedicated to these functions. Exhibitions, the Balcon des sciences, the auditorium, research centre, lecture rooms, and educational workshops are all places where visitors are invited to experience the latest in the human sciences. Moreover, the Musée de l’Homme is home to internationally renowned research teams who work on human evolution and the interactions between societies and their environments.