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Everything You Need To Know About Mucem Marseille

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Marseille, France's second-largest city, is a significant historic port on the Mediterranean. The city has diverse attractions like Notre-Dame de la Garde, Calanques National Park, and La Panier. One of the most popular city sites is the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, also known as Mucem. Inaugurated on 7th June 2013, Marseille was designated the European Capital of Culture. This museum is dedicated to the Mediterranean civilizations and showcases everything from ancient artifacts to contemporary art. Keep reading to learn more about this cultural gem!

Quick Facts About Mucem Marseille

Quick Facts About Mucem Marseille
  • Official name: Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (Mucem)
  • Address: 1 Esp. J4, 13002 Marseille, France
  • Date of opening: 7th June 2013
  • Timings: 10 AM to 6 PM (6th November 2023 – 1st May 2024) and 10 AM to 7 PM (2nd May 2024 – 5th July 2024) every day except Tuesday
  • Architect: Rudy Ricciotti and Roland Carta
  • Number of visitors per year: 2 million visitors per year
  • Collection size: 350,000 photographs, 250,000 objects, 200,000 posters and 150,000 artworks

Plan Your Visit To Mucem Marseille

Timings
Getting There
Plan Your Visit To Mucem Marseille

Opening hours:

  • 6th November 2023 – 1st May 2024: 10 AM to 6 PM 
  • 2nd May 2024 – 5th July 2024: 10 AM to 7 PM

Closed on: Tuesday, 1st December and 1st May

Best time to visit: Plan your visit during spring and fall, when the weather is pleasant, and crowds are smaller than in peak summer months. Also, try to visit early in the morning on weekdays for a quieter experience.

Overview of the Collection at Mucem Marseille

Ethnographic Objects

Ethnographic Objects

Mucem's ethnographic collection comprises traditional clothing, household items, and religious artifacts, such as an Ename Quran box and a fortune-telling machine. These objects provide insights into the daily lives, traditions, and customs of diverse cultures in the Mediterranean, thus giving you an intimate insight into their lives in the past.

picture art gallery collection

Photographs

The extensive photograph collection at Mucem documents Mediterranean people, places, and events. Historical and contemporary images offer a comprehensive insight into the region's history and culture, encompassing daily life, cultural events, and significant historical moments.

Visitors looking at Posters & Prints

Posters & Prints

Mucem's posters, prints, and postcards showcase the artistic and cultural heritage of the Mediterranean. This assortment includes posters advertising cultural events, perspective views, prints of historical scenes, and postcards depicting social and protest movements.

Paintings in Mucem

Paintings

Mucem's posters, prints, and postcards showcase the artistic and cultural heritage of the Mediterranean. This assortment includes posters advertising cultural events, perspective views, prints of historical scenes, and postcards depicting social and protest movements.

Visitor looking at Sculptures

Sculptures

Mucem's sculpture collection includes works from different periods and cultures, displaying the diverse artistic traditions of the Mediterranean. The collection features sculptures in various materials, including stone, wood, ceramics, and metal. Check out the Boe mask, a wooden glove that looks like an ice skate, and a flute made of jaguar bone!

Woman looking at drawings and sketches

Drawings

The collection of drawings at the museum comprises sketches, illustrations, and other works on paper that offer a distinct perspective on the region's history and culture. It includes works by amateur and professional artists, such as The Cradle by Olivier Perrin and The Animal Art by Gustave Soury.

Family looking at Archaeological Artifacts

Archaeological Artifacts

The collection of drawings at the museum comprises sketches, illustrations, and other works on paper that offer a distinct perspective on the region's history and culture. It includes works by amateur and professional artists, such as The Cradle by Olivier Perrin and The Animal Art by Gustave Soury.

Must-See Artworks at Mucem Marseille

Oracle Cards

The famous 19th-century clairvoyant Mage Edmond, created the Oracle cards. These cards are hand-painted with a variety of different symbols, each one connecting to one of the seven celestial bodies – the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Famous entities like Victor Hugo and Napolean III used these tarot cards, which are still relevant among amateurs and professionals.

Sister Orgia's Habit

One of the most thought-provoking art pieces at Mucem, Sister Orgia's Habit effortlessly expresses the order's motto, 'preach joy.' The Habit is intentionally provocative and visible, using the bright colors of the Olympique de Marseille football club. The Sisters are dressed in an iconoclastic cross-dressing manner in an attempt to fight exclusion and advocate for non-violence and peace while combating AIDS in their communities.

"The Frame" by Frida Kahlo, 1938

In the 19th century, there was no access to birth control, which left poor pregnant women with no recourse except for abandoning their babies on the streets. Unfortunately, these infants would die, which is where baby hatch came into the picture. The baby hatch was a small door in the building wall where mothers would leave their infants anonymously, and they would be taken in by whoever found them. When you see this object, it serves as a reminder of the harsh realities of life in the past.

Mermaid Bread

This is one of the most intriguing artifacts at Mucem Marseille. The bread is shaped like a mythical mermaid creature with human and fish-like features, often associated with ancient legends and myths. The bread serves as a visual reminder of the artistic and cultural traditions of the Mediterranean, showcasing a unique way in which the mythology of the mermaid has been interpreted in different forms of folklore.

Moroccan Chest

One of the most beautiful and intricate pieces of furniture, the Moroccan chest at Mucem displays the vibrant artistic traditions of North Africa. The treasure chest is constructed with wood and features an inlaid design and carvings, which include floral motifs and geometric patterns. This piece is a testament to the craftsmanship and skills of Moroccan artisans, allowing you to grasp the country's cultural heritage.

Cross-Pendant Set

The 19th-century Cross pendant with pentacrinites fossils at Mucem Marseille is a remarkable artifact. It features star-shaped marine fossils pentacrinites, renowned for their geometric and poetic appeal, which served as protective amulets against lightning. This unique piece exemplifies the Mediterranean's rich natural history and cultural heritage. Moreover, it underscores the museum's dedication to exploring contemporary aspects of European civilizations.

History of Mucem Marseille

The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (Mucem) in Marseille, born from the metamorphosis of the 1937 Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions in Paris, stands as a pioneering institution dedicated to Mediterranean cultures. Its transformation into Mucem in 2013 marked a significant shift from a national to a regional focus. The three distinct sites – J4, Fort St Jean, and the Conservation and Resource Center – provide nearly 40,000 m² of space dedicated to the civilizations of the Mediterranean. Designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti, the J4 building hosts exhibitions, an auditorium, a bookshop, and a panoramic restaurant. Since its opening in June 2013, Mucem has swiftly ascended to rank among the world's 50 most visited museums by the following year.

Who Built Mucem Marseille?

Rudy Ricciotti

Renowned for blending contemporary aesthetics with tradition, architect Rudy Ricciotti partnered with Roland Carta to craft Mucem Marseille's J4 building. This architectural gem, a beacon for significant exhibitions, showcases Ricciotti's global influence, seen in works like New Zealand's Cardboard Cathedral and Paris's Saint Lazare renovation. His hallmark style, emphasizing light, space, and visual identity, eloquently embodies Mucem's iconic concrete cube adorned with an intricate lacy screen.

Roland Carta

Architect and urban planner Roland Carta collaborated with Rudy Ricciotti, leaving a lasting imprint on Mucem Marseille's design, notably the J4 building. This multifunctional space houses the museum's core elements – the main exhibition area, auditorium, bookshop, and panoramic restaurant. Carta's architectural prowess, marked by a commitment to sustainability, innovation, and contextual sensitivity, extends beyond Mucem to include cultural landmarks such as the Villa Savoy in Nice and the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Architecture of Mucem Marseilles

The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (Mucem) in Marseille stands as a contemporary architectural marvel conceived by Rudy Ricciotti in collaboration with Roland Carta. The building is nestled on the former J4 pier in Marseille's port and serves as the museum's focal point. A precisely symmetrical square measuring 72 meters per side, the structure adheres to a classical Latin layout rooted in Pythagorean principles. The building's distinctive identity arises from its concrete lacy screen, a testament to Ricciotti's design prowess. Internationally acclaimed, the J4 building houses expansive exhibitions across two levels, showcasing technical innovation through the application of fiber-based concrete.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mucem Marseilles

How long should I spend at Mucem Marseille?

Plan for 2-3 hours at Mucem Marseille for a comprehensive visit to explore the rich cultural exhibits.

Is it worth visiting Mucem Marseille?

Absolutely. Mucem Marseille is a cultural gem with impressive architecture and diverse Mediterranean collections.

What is the primary purpose of Mucem Marseille?

Mucem aims to promote Mediterranean heritage, foster regional exchanges, and contribute to the future of the Mediterranean world.

Are there any temporary exhibitions at Mucem Marseille?

Yes, Mucem regularly hosts diverse and insightful temporary exhibitions alongside its permanent collections.

What is the collection size at Mucem Marseille?

Mucem houses over 350,000 photographs, 250,000 objects, 200,000 posters and 150,000 artworks.

Are there facilities for visitors with disabilities at Mucem Marseille?

Yes, the museum has inclusive facilities, ensuring accessibility for all visitors.

Can I buy souvenirs at Mucem Marseille?

Indeed, you can. Mucem Marseille has a boutique where you can explore diverse cultural souvenirs, including books, prints, and unique items.

Can I bring my children to Mucem Marseille?

Yes, Mucem Marseille is family-friendly, with engaging activities for a wholesome educational experience.

Is there a restaurant at Mucem Marseille?

Yes, indulge in dining with scenic Mediterranean views at the restaurant within Mucem's J4 building.