Marseille History Museum

Founded 2,600 years ago, the place known as the Phocaean city is the oldest city in France. The History Museum goes to meet the past of Marseille, from the origins of its foundation by the Greeks to the present day.

Between past and future

The Marseille History Museum was founded in 1983, near the Old Port and a stone’s throw from the Jardin des Vestiges (or Garden of Vestiges), which showcases the ruins of the city’s ancient Greek port nestled at the bottom of the Lacydon. It has been completely renovated, redesigned, and modernized for Marseille-Provence 2013. The new museographic path places the museum in the heart of the city, dialoguing both with the past, embodied by the Jardin des Vestiges, and the future of the city symbolized by the economic activity of the Centre Bourse.

With a 3,500 m² exhibition space, rooms dedicated to temporary exhibitions and workshops, a 200-seat auditorium, a resource and documentation center with a graphic arts cabinet, the Marseille History Museum attracts many visitors every year.

Collections

The Marseille History Museum tells the story of the past of the oldest city in France, but also of a port city open to the Mediterranean Sea and the world. By following the museographic path, the visitor discovers the lives of the men and women who have written the history of the city over the centuries. Thirteen chronological sequences retrace millennia of human occupation, from prehistory to the contemporary development of the urban space.

The museum houses in its collections, remarkable archaeological finds, unearthed during numerous excavation campaigns. The museum is particularly proud of the astonishingly well-preserved fragments of wrecks dating from the 6th century BC.

A living history

The Marseille History Museum offers the public a playful and interactive approach. Reconstructions, models and digital media allow visitors to immerse themselves in the different periods they discover. The work of historians and archeologists is highlighted by resurrected historical or romantic characters such as Pytheas, the Greek explorer, or Edmond Dantès, the famous Count of Monte Cristo. Escales de l’Histoire (Stopovers in History) will particularly appeal to the youngest visitors: these experimental modules should help them to immerse themselves in a playful way in the stories that are offered.

Ancient Port site

2,600 years ago, sailors from the distant Greek town of Phocaea settled in the calm waters of the Lacydon cove, where they founded a city. The site of the ancient port bears witness to the genesis of the oldest city in France, which has become a great metropolis with an international reputation and one of the largest ports in Europe open to the Mediterranean.

Practical information

Prepare your visit to the Marseille History Museum: