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MuCEM: Marseille’s most beautiful museum

The prestigious MuCEM is the jewel in the crown of cultural Marseille. The museum focuses on the European and Mediterranean civilizations from Early Antiquity to present-day. It is housed in an ultra-modern building with a footbridge leading to a medieval fort. The unique architecture makes the museum impressive both inside and out.

The MuCEM, which stands for Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée, opened its doors in June 2013, the year that Marseille was designated the cultural capital of Europe. The MuCEM is located close to the historic harbour in the city centre. The gardens, cafés and restaurants are all part of the complex and a great place to spend time. There is also a popular open-air theatre.

Impressive architecture
Impressive architecture

Marseille

The whimsical façade

An historical medley

The museum focuses on the peoples of the Mediterranean Sea area and there are countless stories to be told about them, from Istanbul to Gibraltar and from the Rosetta Stone to the Palermo mafia. Not only can you learn about the colonisation of Algeria, but also, for example, about the beach culture of the French Riviera. Rudy Ricciotti, the Algerian-French architect who designed the museum, is himself a product of different Mediterranean cultures. And that can clearly be seen: the artistic ambition is unmistakably French while the shapes, like those of the façade, give the building a North African touch. The MuCEM takes on a different colour depending on the weather and time of day. This is particularly noticeable on a sunny day, when you can see a lovely interplay between light and shadow in the whimsical shapes of the façade.

Interplay of light and shadow

Cleverly connected to the city

One of the most eye-catching aspects of the MuCEM is the narrow footbridge. High above the water, it links the museum to the historic Fort Saint-Jean like a pencil line, connecting the slick modernity of the museum to the classic beauty of the fort. At the fort, visitors will find even more exhibition rooms and a second bridge that connects the complex to the rest of the city. This promenade forms a link between the waterfront and higher-lying section of the city.

“The narrow footbridge leads to the historic Fort Saint-Jean like a pencil line”

Photo credits

  • The whimsical façade: pcruciatti, Shutterstock
  • Interplay of light and shadow: Objet Bloguant Non Identifié, Flickr