Looking for the perfect introduction to local Kanak culture? Plan a visit to the Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Nouméa, where art, history, culture, knowledge and natural beauty combine to delight and educate adults and children alike. Housed within beautifully designed buildings and landscaped grounds, the centre sits just minutes from the city, offering a fantastic selection of permanent and temporary exhibitions to discover. A visit to the centre is a must for any Nouméa itinerary.
Situated on eight hectares of land between Magenta and Tina bays, the site encompasses an art centre, a museum, performance spaces, a library, a landscaped park and more. Named after the Kanak political leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou (1936-1989), the Tjibaou Cultural Centre was constructed to celebrate the history and culture of the local Kanak people, and to recognise the cultural diversity that exists within the wider Pacific region.
Designed by world-renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, who was also responsible for the design of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the centre’s design is a modern and monumental interpretation of the island's traditional architecture.
Since its inauguration in May 1998, the Tjibaou Cultural Centre has proved to be a popular destination. Every year, the cultural centre welcomes over 100,000 visitors, half of which are occasional visitors coming to discover the site and the exhibitions on display. The remainder of the centre’s visitors include students, spectators of live performances, and participants in seminars, conferences and congresses.
An architectural masterpieceVoir plus
Modern architecture in harmony with Kanak culture
After making your way through the entrance, you can admire the architecture of the Tjibaou Cultural Centre, designed by Renzo Piano and characterised by a subtle blend of contemporary design and references to Kanak culture.
Promoting Kanak culture, this public institution is managed by the Kanak Culture Development Agency (ADCK). It is a museum, a multimedia library, a congress centre, an auditorium, a research and creation centre, and a botanic garden.
The ‘Kanak path’ crosses the park, inviting visitors to discover symbolic native essences and plants, retracing the five stages constituting the myth of the first man: Téâ Kanaké.
A unique interpretation of traditional Kanak huts
The heart of the Tjibaou Cultural Centre is a 7,000 m² building consisting mostly of ten ribbed and slender structures inspired by the form of traditional Kanak huts. Made of steel and Iroko wood, their height varies between 20 and 28 m, and their surfaces from 55 to 140 m². The ten huts are positioned next to a flat, lower building with an adjoining alley that leads to each hut.
Kanak art under the spotlight
A journey into the heart of Kanak art and heritage awaits you. Several exhibitions showcase the richness of tribal art, featuring carved rooftop spears, everyday objects and intricately carved ritual sculptures, reflecting the diversity of contemporary Kanak and Oceanian art.
The Bwenadoo hut, for example, houses Kanak heritage exhibitions, with objects lent by international museums, including the Quai Branly in Paris. The large Jinu hut displays art from the Pacific, including a selection of monumental sculptures from Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Zealand and New Caledonia. Finally, the Bérétara and Kavitara rooms are dedicated to exhibitions of contemporary art from local artists or that of the Kanak and Oceanian Contemporary Art Fund (FACKO).
The Tjibaou Cultural Centre’s annual events programme features a range of concerts, shows, dances, festivals, local markets and more. A wide choice of events take place throughout the year, showcasing a selection of great local and international productions. The beauty of the centre certainly brings a touch of magic to these events.
Besides the permanent and temporary exhibitions, the centre also hosts artistic residencies in a dedicated structure.
Follow the Kanak path
Outside, the Kanak path winds along the mangroves: This journey introduces you to the myth of the creation of the first man, Teâ Kanaké. As you make your way along the path, you will some to understand the close relationship that exists between nature and culture in Kanak society, as well as the importance it gives to plants.