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History & Civilizations

Kanak Notebooks. Inventory trip of Roger Boulay

90 min visit

Quai Branly Museum
15 Dec → 16 May 2021
From Tue to Sun, from 10:30am to 7pm. Nocturnal Thu > 10pm. Closed Mon

« Travel to New Caledonia and immerse yourself in Kanak civilisation without leaving Paris. »

From Hawaiian, the word "kanak" means "human being". It was used in the 19th century by settlers, written in its western form "canaque", to refer to the indigenous peoples of Melanesia. In the 1970s, the indigenous people of New Caledonia claimed their identity by re-appropriating the word. The Nouméa agreement signed in 1998 acknowledges the wrongs of the colonial period and its impact on the dispersion of Kanak heritage throughout the world. In 1979, Roger Boulay, then a collaborator of the Kanak Culture Development Agency, was given an inventory of Kanak objects kept in European museums. An exceptional mission ordered by Jean-Marie Tjibaou, a political figure of Kanak nationalism in New Caledonia. It is a meticulous work elaborated in collaboration with Emmanuel Kasarhérou, now director of the Quai Branly Museum - Jacques Chirac. This civilizational study continued from 2011 to 2015, following the request of the New Caledonian government with the Inventory of Kanak Dispersed Heritage (IKDH). This time, Roger Boulay went to museums and collections all over the world. In the space of 20 years, he has produced 3,000 watercolour sketches, precious scientific documents with important information on the 16,000 objects inventoried: dimensions, dates, details or missing fragments. This exhibition establishes a dialogue between Roger Boulay's original sketchbooks and the works preserved in the museum. It is an "inventory adventure" that contributes to the active safeguarding of Kanak memory. In 2019, Roger Boulay donates his ten watercolour sketchbooks to the Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac Museum.


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