Where are we headed?

How has today’s globalized world come about? Will we all one day live the same way? Is globalization actually creating new differences? How will 7 billion human inhabitants face the challenge of our planet’s limited resources? Are we still evolving?

The last part of the visit focuses on the world of contemporary humans. It questions the future of our species in a world that we are constantly transforming and that transforms us in return. It revolves around three main challenges:

  • living in societies that are constantly changing
  • living together on a planet with limited resources
  • living in an artificialized world

This section of the visit is a trip through time as we explore the history of globalization and anthropization, as well as through space as we discover the state of the planet, the ecological impact of human activities, and the ways societies relate to their environment. For the first time in history, humans are obliged to question whether the kind of development we ourselves have brought about is actually compatible with the future of human societies.


This last part brings the visitor full circle to the world as we know it today

To question the notion of progress.

To take measure of human impact on the planet and its acceleration over the past 60 years. Humans have always modified their environment, but never at this rate.

To discover the various aspects and effects of globalization.

To understand how, in a multipolar, interconnected world, some elements of cultural diversity resist and are reinvented.

To look into the future to see how our bodies—the bodies of former hunters and gatherers—react to these new environments to which they are not 100 % adapted, and how they are continuing to transform as a result.

To examine ethical and societal issues surrounding the future of our species and the role each of us has to play with regard to the challenges they represent.

Content in this section is more conceptual

To get the messages across, this final part of the visit relies on videos, investigative exhibits and recently acquired objects that researchers have added to the cultural anthropology collection.

1 multi-screen installation retraces the four main phases of globalization: From the Neolithic to 1492 (worlds apart); 1492 to 1850 (European efforts to unify these worlds); 1850 to 1950 (an industrialized, Western world) and since 1950 (the acceleration, from a bipolar world to a multipolar one).

1 yurt, part Mongolian, part French, illustrates how traditional dwellings are being updated and reinvented.

1 As the world turns exhibit, 9 m in diameter, consisting of three components (1 360° circular screen, 1 “Lifestyles” display case and one interactive exhibit) that illustrates human impact on the planet using both global data on the depletion of resources and concrete examples of different ways of life (see box). The interactive exhibit gives the floor to four scientists from different fields (an ecologist, an anthropologist, a demographer and an agronomist) who answer the same questions: How will we get by without oil and How will we feed 9 billion people? A touch-tablet and two screens allow the visitor to choose a scientist and interact according to the replies.

1 table in the form of a half grain of empty rice, presents the history of rice and the variety of ways different civilizations prepare it. Cooking methods, recipients and odours demonstrate the many ways we have found to feed ourselves.


Hop on an express bus through Dakar

This bus, acquired in Dakar and restored, once worked a local bus line in the capital of Senegal in the 1960s. It is now equipped to take visitors on a stationary ride through a city where traditional stalls still stand side-by-side with buildings that symbolize globalization.

Discover the lives of five families worldwide

How do they live? Everyday objects in conjunction with videos shot by researchers illustrate rural ways of life (a Sami herdsman from Lapland, a pygmy from Gabon, an inhabitant of the Siwa oasis in Egypt) and urban lifestyles (a Parisian and an inhabitant from the city of Tashkent in Uzbekistan).

How do you imagine the future?

Before leaving the Galerie de l’Homme, the visitor is invited to watch and listen to other people answer a set of questions about the future of the human species, the future of relations between countries and societies, and the future of the planet. Some of the videos are borrowed from Yann Artus Bertrand’s project 7 Billion humans.

A recording booth is at the disposition of visitors who can voice their own opinions and add them to the others.