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Paul Robeson at the Musée du Quai Branly

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

Paul Robeson at the Musée du Quai Branly

There are only three days remaining for the Paul Robeson exhibition at the musée du quai Branly.

I saw it last weekend and am glad that I did.  But I was not expecting it to be so small.  My husband and I saw the entire thing in less than an hour, without rushing.

The exhibition is located in the Atelier Martine Aublet, which is not far from the end of the dark, winding passageway that leads to the entrance to the museum's main exhibition space.

The River _ passageway to musée du quai Branly exhibition spaceThe River - Passageway to the museum's exhibition space
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When you come to the Senegalese megalith in the part of the museum devoted to African art and artifacts, look to your right.   The signage for the Robeson exhibition and a white staircase beckon you upward.

Senegalese MegalitySenegalese Megalith
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Entry to Paul Robeson exhibitionEntry to Paul Robeson exhibition
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At the top of the stairs, two panels to your left introduce the exhibition. 

Entry panel for Paul Robeson exhibitionEntry panel for Paul Robeson exhibition
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Second panel for Paul Robeson exhibitionSecond panel for Paul Robeson exhibition
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The first panel is the only one that includes an English-language translation.  If you do not speak French and come to the exhibition with the intent to learn about Robeson by perusing the content displayed here, you will be disappointed.

The second panel is the only one with several items that have vivid color.  If you are looking for an exhibition that stimulates you through color photos and objects, this isn't for you.

After passing the second panel, walk straight ahead to see a magnificent sculpted portrait of Robeson.  On loan from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, it is the work of Jacob Epstein.

Paul Robeson 1928 by Jacob EpsteinPaul Robeson, 1928
Jacob Epstein
Museum of Modern Art, New York
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The exhibition focuses not only on Paul Robeson's activities in support of the dignity and civil rights of African Americans at home, but also on his actions in support of oppressed persons across the globe.  These included the Jews who were persecuted in Nazi Germany, the citizens who opposed fascism during the Spanish Civil War, and colonized peoples around the world.

The station entitled "Le Non-Aligné" ("The Unaligned") presented tidbits of information about Robeson's wife, Esmelda Goode Robeson, who was an activist in her own right.

Esmelda and Paul RobesonPhoto of Eslanda Goode Robeson and Paul Robeson
Image by Entrée to Black Paris

African Journey by Esmelda Goode RobesonAfrican Journey - a book by Eslanda Goode Robeson
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Many stations included audio of Robeson singing or film of the actor at various events.  Near the end of the exhibition, three short film clips show Robeson interacting with audiences in Edinburgh and Moscow.  In two film clips, Robeson sings one of his signature tunes, "Joe Hill."

Paul Robeson singing Joe Hill in EdinburghPaul Robeson singing to an audience of Scottish miners in Edinburgh
Frame from film entitled
Image by Entrée to Black Paris

If you have a good command of the French language and only have or want to spend a short amount of time at an interesting exhibition, then Paul Robeson may just be for you!  It will be on display until Sunday, October 14.

Musée du quai Branly
37 Quai Branly
75007 Paris
Entry fee: 10€ (includes admission to the permanent collection)
Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday: 11:00 am-07:00 pm
Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 11:00 am-09:00 pm