Paul Rivet Atrium

This new space in the main pavilion is the hallmark of an architectural and strategic transformation, in terms of how spaces are arranged and how people move through them.

Located above the welcome hall, it rises 16 meters, spanning two levels. This is the very heart of the museum, leading on to the temporary exhibition galleries, the Café Lucy with a view of the Seine, and the different parts of the museum’s educational programme (Balcon des sciences, Jean Rouch auditorium, Germaine Tillion resource centre).

The Atrium is accessible by lifts or the double staircase going back to the days of Carlu.

The history trail: travel back in time to learn about the Musée de l’Homme!

The ten-part trail presents wall displays featuring photographs and text about important dates in the history of the institution, major figures associated with the museum and the building’s exceptional architecture, all of which you can explore at your own pace throughout the visit.

Discover ten milestones in the history of the Musée de l’Homme at the Atrium Paul Rivet and the other museum spaces, at your own pace, in your own order.*

Ground Level Hall:

  • “The Musée de l’Homme and the French Resistance”
  • “One entrance hall, three museums, two palatial buildings.”

Level 1: Atrium Paul Rivet

  • “The origins of the Musée de l’Homme 1878-1936”
  • “Creation and opening of the Musée de l’Homme 1937-1938”
  • “Palace Transformation 1878-2015”
  • “The new Musée de l’Homme 2003-2015”

Level 1: Centre de ressources Germaine Tillion

  • “From the Hottentot Venus exhibit to the restoration of Sawtche.”

Level 1: Auditorium Jean Rouch

  • “Jean Rouch: ethnographer and cinematographer”

Level 2: Balcon des sciences

  • “One glass ceiling, two palatial buildings, three museums.”

Level 4: Bibliothèque Yvonne Oddon

  • “Yvonne Oddon and the Musée de l’Homme library”

*The history trail consists of stand-alone displays that can be viewed in any order.

Learn more about the history of the Musée de l’Homme


Paul Rivet (1876-1958)

Born in 1876, Paul Rivet was an anthropologist and a politician. In 1925, he founded the Ethnology Institute (Institut d’Ethnologie) with Marcel Mauss and Lucien Lévy-Bruhl. In 1928, he was appointed a professor with the department of anthropology at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN) and director of the Trocadero Ethnography Museum (Musée d’Ethnographie du Trocadéro). Under his direction, the two institutions were linked administratively and a discipline was founded that would study both the biological and cultural characteristics of human beings: ethnology. In 1938, he founded the Musée de l’Homme, which combined exhibition spaces, a library, lecture halls and a screening room. Paul Rivet’s museum was aimed at public education, and new social functions were attributed to it. A researcher with a sense of commitment, he was a partisan of the French movement known as the Popular Front (Front Populaire) and welcomed Russian exiles to his team in the 1930s. In 1940, he himself was exiled for opposing the Vichy government, while fostering the creation of a French Resistance network at the Musée de l’Homme. He died in 1958 following a long illness.

Learn more about Paul Rivet.