Created as part of the “temporary museum of scientific missions” organized for the 1878 Universal Exhibition, the Musée d’ethnographie du Trocadéro opened to the public in 1882. Founded by Ernest-Theodore Hamy, it brought together ethnographic collections from all over the world (including France), the most important being those from America. As early as the 1890s, the museum fell into decline due to a lack of resources and strong scientific ambition. Hamy resigned in December 1906 and was replaced by René Verneau. From 1928 onwards, the museum was directed by Paul Rivet, assisted by Georges-Henri Rivière, deputy director, who sealed an unprecedented alliance between science and culture. The museum was undergoing a profound modernization at a time when the recognition of “primitive arts” questioned the very role of an ethnography museum. Entering the era of communication and advertising, the museum aimed to be the showcase and platform of French ethnology which was in the process of institutionalization and professionalization. The museum closed its doors in August 1935 to make way for the construction on the same spot of the future Musée de l’Homme, inaugurated on 20 June 1938 by its founder and director, Paul Rivet.
« Quand l’ethnographie défie l’anthropologie. Le tournant manqué du Musée d’ethnographie du Trocadéro »
Fabrice Grognet, 2015
Au début du xxe siècle, le Musée d’Ethnographie du Trocadéro (MET) est à la croisée des chemins. Passée la ferveur qui a accompagné son inauguration en 1882, le MET tombe en désuétude. Après la démission en 1906 d’Ernest-Théodore Hamy (1842-1908), son artisan principal et premier directeur, le MET, souffrant de manière criante du manque de crédits accordés par le ministère de l’Instruction publique et des Beaux-Arts, (...)