Jean Rouch Auditorium

The Jean Rouch Auditorium is both a historic and resolutely contemporary space and as such is emblematic of the Musée de l’Homme as a whole. With seating for 152, it is a lively venue for screenings, conferences, round tables, performances and more, and an integral part of the life of the museum.

Emblematic of the Musée de l’Homme

On its creation in 1938, the Musée de l’Homme innovated by building its own cinema. Film was in the process of becoming a research tool thanks to the work of pioneering ethnographic filmmakers, notably the ethnologist Marcel Griaule and his student Jean Rouch. At the initiative of André Leroi-Gourhan, the cinematography department was created in 1945, followed by the Ethnographic Film Committee in 1952, giving rise to major production of films. 1982 saw the creation of the international film festival that now bears its founders name: The International Jean Rouch Film Festival. The festival, an international event, once again takes its place at the Musée de l’Homme since 2015.

A key space for lectures, conferences, and screenings

The auditorium is located on level 1, with a foyer and a hall providing seating for 152*. It’s a flexible space, easily adaptable for an array of programming that gives voice to science and a look at fieldwork through encounters with the scientists, conferences, round tables and film seasons, including fiction films. The auditorium also hosts colloquia and scientific study days at the initiative of the research departments. Partnerships with the Friends of the Musée de l’Homme Society, the Ethnographic Film Committe, and the National Rescue Archaeology Research Institute (Institut National de Recherche en Archéologie Préventive) and other structures extend to broader audiences.

*5 spots are accessible to people with reduced mobility. The auditorium will be equipped with hearing loop systems for visitors with hearing aids.

Programme for the Jean Rouch Auditorium

Find the complete programme for the Jean Rouch Auditorium in the events calendar (French only).


Jean Rouch (1917-2004)

Jean Rouch was an ethnologist and a filmmaker. An engineer, he first discovered Africa while working in Niger in 1941. Familiar with Surrealism and the work of Marcel Griaule in Dogon country, he was inspired to film the changing African continent and French society. He experimented with what he called cinema-vérité, combining the practice of ethnography with the directing of documentary films. “Cinéma vérité is not truth at the cinema. It is the truth of cinema. A particular form of truth.” (Jean Rouch)

In 1953, he created the Musée de l’Homme’s Ethnographic Film Committee. The Wednesday screenings of ethnographic films offered a chance to see work from the world’s leading schools of anthropological filmmaking. From 1978, they proposed a selection of period films and films by different directors (explorers, filmmakers, journalists, anthropologists, etc.) on a given subject. In 1979, for instance, the Bushmen of the Kalahari got top billing, in 1986, the Papuans of New Guinea, and in 1987 the Inuits of Greenland. The Ethnographic Film Committee continued after the passing of Jean Rouch, building on documentation about his ethno-cinematographic work, comprised of close to 130 films.

The first documentary festival, the Bilan du film ethnographic created in 1982, was renamed the Festival International Jean Rouch in 2008 in honour of its founder. Once again, as of November 2015, the event is held in the auditorium of the Musée de l’Homme.