Australian Government commissions Indigenous contribution to French museum

01 October 2004, Australia

The Australian Government has announced it will fund the commissioning of a major permanent artwork by Australian Indigenous artists for the Paris-based Musee du quai Branly. The contemporary Australian Indigenous artwork will be a prominent feature of the $263 million museum building, which will showcase Indigenous art from around the globe. Dubbed President Jacques Chirac's pet project, the Musee du quai Branly is being constructed on the banks of the Seine in the heart of Paris. The groundbreaking site will house a museum and research centre, providing a cultural hub for art of the Americas, Oceania and Asia. In June this year, Chirac told a delegation of American Indians that ‘in these times of violence, arrogance, intolerance and fanaticism,’ the museum will show ‘France's faith in the virtues of cultural diversity and dialogue.’ The quai Branly project provides a unique opportunity to showcase Indigenous Australian art to an international audience. The newly announced commission represents one of the most significant public artworks ever commissioned from Australian artists for permanent display overseas and a stunning platform for our Indigenous art at large. The commissioned artworks will be applied to the ceiling, walls and facade of the building, forming an integral part of its design. The art will be viewed by the millions of passers by that visit Paris’ central tourist district each year. The Australian Government is committing $300,000 to the project – the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs will contribute $150,000, the Minister for Trade will contribute $75,000 and the Australia Council will contribute $75,000. The Australia Council has already contributed $80,000 to the development of the curatorial concept and facilitated negotiations on the museum project, and will further contribute by coordinating and managing the commission of the artworks. The Musee du quai Branly and the Government of France will cover those costs associated with in the installation and application of the artworks in the museum itself. Australian art and Aboriginal bark painting have been a part of the quai Branly permanent collection since 1950. More than 1400 paintings and Indigenous objects from Australia are currently held in the collection. The latest commission will ensure Australia has a substantive presence at the new world-class facility, currently scheduled for completion in early 2006. For more information, CLICK HERE.