Modernity entails the rationalisation of the world, reason, industrialisation, capitalism and progress. The concept arose in the late 15th century before blossoming in the 19th century. It is concomitant with colonisation: the conquest of the world and of spaces is founded on an idea of superiority. The museum concept arose in the 18th and 19th centuries. An open, democratic museum which gives the State the means to consolidate the writing of its narrative. Telling of a unique nation, with a unique culture and a unique history.

So, museums for the Fine Arts, Natural History, Ethnography (among others) were founded. They spoke of science, truth, beauty and history. These museums existed not only to educate, but also to display a nation’s power. This was the era of colonial expansion, and international, universal, colonial exhibitions. The Palais de Tokyo was founded for the 1937 World Fair, devoted to modernity. Its first exhibition was titled Les chefs d’œuvres de l’art français [The Masterpieces of French Art].