Unconventional Beauty

In designing Paris’s new Musée du Quai Branly, architect Jean Nouvel didn’t exactly take the easiest road to public acclaim. “Defiant, mysterious and wildly eccentric, it is not an easy building to love. Its jumble of mismatched structures, set in a lush, rambling garden on the Left Bank of the Seine in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, hardly conforms to notions of Parisian elegance… Yet for all of its flaws, Jean Nouvel’s building creates a kaleidoscopic montage of urban impressions. And once you give yourself over to the experience, you may find it the greatest monument to French popular culture since the Pompidou.”