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Visits to Magnin-A Gallery+Quai Branly Museum

On September 27, 2023, we visited the Quai Branly Museum and the Magnin-A Gallery in Paris.

Quai Branly Museum

Passing the huge antique Eiffel Tower, we arrived at the glass-walled entrance to the Musée du Quai Branly, a museum dedicated to the culture of non-European civilizations designed by architect Jean Nouvel and landscaped by Gilles Clérmont during the presidency of Jacques Chirac in 2006. At this time, “Senghor*1 and the Arts” and “Bollywood Superstars” exhibitions were on. The permanent exhibition on Africa was a dynamic display of sculptures and masks, but what caught my eye as soon as I entered the museum was the "Musical Instrument Tower.” Approximately 10,000 musical instruments from around the world, from the lute of West Timor to the xylophone of Bali, are housed in a six-story cylindrical repository, designed to be visible from the outside. This restoration campaign was made possible in 2019 with support from several foundations, and the museum invited the public to crowdfund the restoration of the instruments and improve their condition of storage, which was used to fund 130 highly vulnerable instruments in particular need of restoration.

Tower overview: height 24 m, diameter 16 m, area visible from outside 700 m2, breakdown of 10,000 instruments (Africa: 3,850 pieces, Asia: 2,450 pieces, America: 2,450 pieces (including ancient), Oceania: 600 pieces, Malay Archipelago: 500 pieces)

This campaign was not only a physical restoration, but also concerts were performed on restored instruments in 2021.

*1: The writer, poet and statesman Léopold Sédar Senghor (1909-2001), the first President of Senegal from 1960-1980 and a pioneer of Négritude.

From the left, the Music Instrument Tower, sculpture, and Eiffel Tower

Magnin-A Gallery

The purpose of my visit to Paris was to meet M. André Magnin, curator of the “Magiciens de la terre" exhibition in 1989. I was welcomed by Mr. Brami, who took care of my appointment with the MAGNIN-A gallery, established in 2009 in Paris, and was briefed on the Amadou Sanogo exhibition currently on display and introduced to the works for the Modern Congo exhibition in the storage room. Then just as I was looking at Seydou Keita's photographs, Mr. Magnin, who had just finished his interview, appeared and I was able to greet him, moved to think that this man is a legendary pioneer of African contemporary art. After that, we all sat down on the first floor meeting room, I inctorudced the Amamoto & Shiraiahi Africulture Centre that was established last year, emphasizing that I would like to promote African culture in the future. I offered catalogs on Lilanga and other works from the Shiraishi African Art Collection, which M. Magnin said he would add to the bookshelf on the wall. I was overjoyed when I received catalogs for the Amadou Sanogo Exhibition and Modern Congo Exhibition placed in a cotton bag with the MAGNIN-A logo on it. Then photos were taken with Mr. Boutté, who will accede to the running of the gallery in the near future, Mr. Magnin, and Mr. Brami with a unique painting by Amadou Sanogo that I liked the most. They were pleased to see a Hermes scarf featuring Lilanga's painting I intentionally wore for the occasion, and luckily I was shown excellent ink drawings of Lilanga from the 1970s. I parted after staying for about an hour, and it was Mr. Magnin who saw us to the door. I take off my hat to Mr. Magnin, who has pioneered and long been a leader in contemporary African art.

Magnin-A Gallery; in front of Amadou Sanogo's work, M. Magnin, myself, M. Brami and M. Boutte from the left


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