20 Jun 2006

New museum on Oceania and others opens in France today

3:32 pm on 20 June 2006

A new museum devoted to the arts and civilisations of Oceania, Africa, Asia, and the Americas is being officially opened in France today.

The Musee du Quai Branly, which is close to the Eiffel Tower, is the first purpose-built museum in Paris in 30 years.

The French president, Jacques Chirac, says the museum, which has a collection of 300,000 artefacts, goes some way towards putting an end to a history of cultures too long ignored.

The director of the museum, Stephane Martin, says it will be a teaching institution as well as providing an opportunity to look outside of western cultures.

"Nowadays, museums are also assuming another responsibility which is to give back dignity to people, and to show part of national histories which were sad and which have to be known, this is important."

Stephane Martin.

A Radio New Zealand journalist says the Pacific Island countries which have, or have had, an association with France, are particularly well represented at the museum.