Named in honor of charismatic independence leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou, this wonderful building high on a peninsula overlooking the ocean is a must-see. The design, by acclaimed Genoese architect Renzo Piano, is stunning: a row of 10 large, conical pavilions shaped like shells stand on a 250-meter (820-foot) ridge on Point Tinu, about 8 km (5 miles) northeast of Noumea. Each pavilion is a different size and dimension, and each contains either a permanent or temporary exhibition,
such as "The Spirit of Oceania" in one, and a selection of Kanak art dating from the 18th to the 20th centuries in another. The center celebrates the culture of the Kanak people, Melanesian natives of New Caledonia, who were the inhabitants of the country when France annexed it in 1853. While the exterior of the building is breathtaking, and the Kanak Trail that links a series of huts and sculptures in the gardens is interesting and informative, some have criticized the interior for its lack of exhibits and inadequate English-language commentary. To reach the center from downtown Noumea, take the number 40 bus.
Rues des Accords de Matignon, Noumea, New Caledonia