This interesting museum, located at the north-west side of the forest of Vincennes, in a building designed for the Colonial Exhibition in 1931, was originally called the Museum of the Colonies, and later the Museum of Overseas France.

Its facade contains a fresco depicting the contributions made by France’s overseas colonies. It houses one of the best collections of African and Oceanic art in Europe, however, not all of it from former French colonies.


The architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers had chosen to construct a building with visible, external Organ, free from traditional asthetic constraints, in order to leave all of the interior space available.

The Collection

Beginning on the ground floor, on one side, you can find Oceanic art such as Australian painted bark, drums, masks, funerary figures and root sculptures from New Guinea.
The other side of the main hall contains African art including masks. These masks and statued furniture, adornments and tools should be exhibited in parallel with paintings by Expressionists, Cubists and Surrealists to see the major influence of primitive art on their own work. This museum was visited often by Picasso and friends.

The African collection continues on the two upper floors. The first floor displays dance and ceremonial masks brought in from the Ivory Coast, Mali and Ghana, and ceremonial statues from the Congo. The second upper floor contains works from the former French colonies of north Africa such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Here you can find wonderful jewellery, ceramics, embroidery, pottery, furniture and carpets. In the basement of this building, which is just opposite the zoo, is a tropical aquarium and terrarium with five live crocodiles in a tiny pit surrounded by tanks of tropical fishes.

Location : 293 Avenue Daumesnil 75012 Paris

Phone 01 53 59 58 60

How to get there : 

  • Metro line 8 : Porte Dorée
  • Bus : PC, 46

Opening :

  • Weekdays 10 am to12 am and 1. 30 pm to 5. 30 pm
  • Saturday and Sunday : 12. 30 to 6 pm
  • Closed on Tuesday and May, the 1st

Official website :

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