Born in 1956, Stéphane Martin is a judge in France’s « Cour des comptes, » which supervises, among other things, the way public money is spent. With a diploma from Paris’s Institute of Political Studies, Mr. Martin was named auditor for the Court in 1982 upon completion of his studies at the National School for Administration, then promoted to public auditor in 1986 and appointed chief auditor in September 2000.
Lecturer at the Institute of Political Studies, the National School of Administration and the National School of Statistics and Economic Administration (1982 – 1985), Recorder with the Court of Budgetary and Financial Discipline (1985), then president of the Commission on Verification of the Accounts and the Supervision of Public Bodies for the Republic of Sénégal (1986 – 1989), he was later General Delegate of the Georges Pompidou Center (1989 – 1990).
Assistant director of music at Radio France (1990 – 1993), assistant director of the departmental staff of Jacques Toubon in the Ministry of Culture and Francophony (1993). He was director of music and dance there as well (1993 – 1995), then director of the departmental staff of M. Philippe Douste-Blazy in the Ministry of Culture (1995 – 1997). He also was director of the Grimaldi Forum, a cultural complex and conference center in Monaco (1997 – 1998). In late 1997, he became president of the Ensemble Inter Contemporain, a chamber orchestra specializing in contemporary classical music.
In December 1998, Mr. Martin was appointed President/Director General of the Quai Branly Museum’s public facilities. In December 2004, he became President of the Quai Branly Museum. Mr. Martin has been a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) since May 2000.
He is Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters, Commander of the Orders of the Lion and of Merit in Sénégal and Officer of the Order of Merit (Poland).
1. The Quai Branly Museum : A new ethnographic museum in France
In 1995 Jacques Chirac began announcing his aim to found a new museum in Paris. The museum would be dedicated to the arts of Africa, Asia Oceania and the Americas, thereby acknowledging the diversity of this art while giving special attention to dialogue between cultures. The intent was to create an institution entirely dedicated to the patrimonies of other countries and not solely to French culture. At once a study and research center, library, theater and concert hall, the Quai Branly Museum, which opened its doors to the public this past June 23, provides various possibilities to put on display numerous works and the cultures from which they come. Coming up with the idea, however, of an ethnographic museum in a country where the question of indigenous peoples isn’t discussed with as much intensity as it is in the United States, and where it directly impacts upon national identity, was not necessarily a given. It assumed the task of envisioning the specific way of displaying the artwork of these peoples, carrying on discourse about, them and portraying their representatives’ voices.
2. The Quai Branly Museum : a new building in Paris
Falling within the framework of great presidential cultural projects, the Quai Branly Museum is the only museum to have been built in Paris for 25 years. This architectural project is atypical and, as the Pyramid of the Louvre did in its time, breaks with a certain Parisian architectural conservatism. The work of French architect Jean Nouvel, it responds to specific demands in terms of image, identity, accessibility, and inclusion in the urban landscape. Located on an exceptional site, within the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, it plays on the emotions and the feeling of being transported to unfamiliar lands. The building is the perfect incarnation of the ambitions of the museum project. The diversity of the edifices, the care given to the way visitors pass through the exhibit areas, and the attention devoted to the spatial situations create an architecture which is completely at odds with the traditional codes of a museum. This distinction has already made the Quai Branly Museum a reference point on both the national and international scenes.
3. The Quai Branly Museum in the World
Displaying works from four continents, the museum is in essence an institution with an international calling. As stated in its general policies, this ambition implies a dialogue with the collections’ countries of origin, as well as with other institutions with similar missions. Through an active lending policy involving partners and the participation of diverse international networks, the museum is already a dynamic actor within the international scientific and cultural community. The Quai Branly Museum’s acquisitions policy also constitutes a way for the museum to gain international visibility. This policy strives not only to build on the strong points of the collections and to bolster its weakness, but also to preserve the record of certain historic moments by assembling works which have participated in the history of the arts and the cultures. While purchases of works of art from outside Europe by museums was not a major activity during the 20th century, the development of a structured and ambitious acquisitions policy was accompanied by ethical considerations : How and why should these articles be purchased, and for whom ?
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