© Chillio C.

MuCEM: The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations

The MuCEM, inaugurated on the occasion of Marseille-Provence 2013, is the first major national museum dedicated to Mediterranean civilizations. At the mouth of the Old Port, facing the sea, the MuCEM occupies a building specially built to house its collections, as well as the former Fort Saint-Jean. Its architecture and location make the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations a real link between the past and the future of the Phocaean city, the oldest city in France. The MuCEM has a surface area of nearly 45,000 m2 and is spread over three separate sites.

Three sites for a single museum

The J4 is a building hailed for its architectural boldness. Rudy Ricciotti and Roland Carta created a cube of concrete lacework that watches over the entrance to the Old Port. The mesh plays with the sun, for particularly photogenic plays of light and shadow. The 15,000 m² site is home to temporary exhibitions and permanent collections. There is also an auditorium, a bookstore and a restaurant with a panoramic terrace.

The carefully restored Fort Saint-Jean opens the MuCEM to the city of Marseille. This historic monument, of which the first buildings date back to the 12th century, is freely accessible to visitors, who can stroll along the curtain walls, enjoy a café and a bookstore. The Fort Saint-Jean site also covers 15,000 m². Several rooms house the works of the MuCEM. Two concrete footbridges, with slender lines, link Fort Saint-Jean to the Panier district on one side, and to the J4 on the other.

The Conservation and Resource Center, located in the Belle de Mai district, is where the collections are kept. The Center can also be visited for a behind-the-scenes tour of this must-see museum in Marseille. Part of the reserves are accessible to the public. Visitors can also take advantage of a documentary area and a temporary exhibition space.

Mediterranean civilizations

The MuCEM is dedicated to the Mediterranean civilizations from Prehistory to contemporary questionings. Works of art of inestimable value stand alongside objects of past or present everyday life, selected for the testimonies and insights they can offer visitors.

The MuCEM’s collections are grouped into nine major areas: Performing Arts, Public life, Sport & health, Crafts, Commerce & Industry, Mobility, cross-influences & communication, Home life, Body, Image & Sexuality, Agriculture & Food, and Religions & beliefs. All the civilizational aspects of the Mediterranean are thus explored and proposed. Culture and History are alive, present, plural and open to the world. Each room is a journey that opens your gaze. It offers a complementary approach to the previous room, already letting visitor discern the premises of the next room.

A museum open to the city

Several areas of the MuCEM are freely accessible to locals and tourists, who can stroll through a remarkable site and enjoy the breathtaking view of the city from Fort Saint-Jean. The spiral staircase of the square tower of King René, built in the 15th century, leads to an esplanade offering an extraordinary view over a large part of Marseille.

The stores, the café and the restaurant are also open to all. Hanging Mediterranean gardens, monumental works of art and deckchairs decorate the premises. You can come to the MuCEM as a couple, with family or friends to have lunch or refreshments, and enjoy the sun. You can also choose it as a meeting place, linger there for a few minutes before leaving to discover other parts of Marseille.

Temporary exhibitions

The visitor’s interest is constantly renewed thanks to the MuCEM’s programming. Each exhibition focuses on a particular aspect of history or culture, most often directly related to Mediterranean civilizations. Other exhibitions also open the museum to the world, to more distant civilizations, this time with the notion of tolerance and the desire to explore cultural aspects of great diversity as common denominators. For example, between 2020 and 2019, Massilia Toy presented to the visitors about 500 toys from the 19th and 20th centuries, all made in Marseille. In 2018 and 2019, the Kacimi exhibition presented this Moroccan plastic artist. In 2017, Anne-Marie Filaire, Temporary Security Zone, tackled, through the lens of this committed photographer, a much more serious theme: Middle East conflicts.

The auditorium and museum spaces also regularly host events: movies, plays, meetings, workshops for children to share with the family, etc.

Stores, bookstores and restaurants

On the roof of the museum, Le Môle Passedat allows you to enjoy tasty and creative cuisine, while offering a breathtaking view of the harbor. The restaurant is managed by Gérald Passedat, a three-starred chef in the Michelin Guide. Several catering areas are available: La Table, and its menu following the seasons, La cuisine, a convivial space composed of a dish served at the table, a buffet of starters and desserts in self-service, and Le Café to share a refreshment or snack with friends and family or as a couple. The museum also includes a cooking school and a kiosk offering preparations to take away or to taste on the spot, on the go.

Informations pratiques

  • Temps de visite : 2h à 3h sont recommandées pour profiter des collections permanentes et des expositions du musée
  • Jours d’ouverture : le MuCEM est ouvert tous les jours (excepté le mardi), et tous les jours au mois d’août (mardi compris). Le musée est fermé le 1er mai et le 25 décembre.
  • Horaires : ouverture à 11h (10h en juillet / août), fermeture entre 18h00 et 20h00 en fonction de la saison
  • Adresse : 1 Esplanade J4, 13002 Marseille
  • Accès : le MuCEM se situe à proximité du Vieux-Port, et est facilement accessible depuis Aix-en-Provence et Lyon par l’autoroute A55, et depuis Aubagne et Toulon par l’autoroute A50 et le tunnel Prado-Carénage.
  • Accessibilité : établissement labellisé Tourisme et Handicap
  • Site Internet: https://www.mucem.org/

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