International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

Musée national des arts et traditions populaires (1936-2005)

Designed in the late 1930s, the Musée national des Arts et Traditions populaires was the creation of a museological genius, Georges Henri Rivière, who had trained at the Musée d’ethnographie du Trocadéro alongside Paul Rivet. Created by the Minister of Culture Jean Zay at the time of the Popular Front in 1936, the institution’s mission was to promote the cultures of the people, then called folklore. After a slowdown during the war, Georges Henri Rivière devoted all his energy to the construction of a new building, located on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, while implementing a scientific ethnography through in-depth field surveys, gathering the collections of objects that enriched what some called “Le Louvre du Peuple” when the permanent galleries opened in the 1970s. As the field of French ethnology opened up to the study of modernity, the permanent galleries, which had not evolved and showed a vanished rural society, were increasingly out of step with research as practised in the CNRS laboratory that was associated with the Museum. On top of the internal crisis was an institutional crisis that led to the closure of the Museum in 2005. Its exceptional collections are now housed in a Centre belonging to the Mucem in Marseille.

Keywords: Folklore | Social and cultural anthropology | Ethnology | Museology/museography | 20th century | France | French folklore | Folk arts | Rural Societies | Collections | Georges Henri Rivière | André Desvallées | Jean Dubuisson | Jean Cuisenier | Martine Jaoul | Martine Segalen | Jacques Sallois | Jean Guibal | Marcel Maget | Arnold Van Gennep | Isac Chiva | Mucem

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