The MuCEM, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, will open its doors in 2013, at the time when Marseille will be the European Capital of Culture.
Strategically located between the historic Vieux Port and the new Joliette urban district, the MuCEM links the Fort Saint Jean’s historic towers and gardens to a new building designed by Rudy Ricciotti, currently under construction. 26,000 m2 of exhibition space will be dedicated to Euro-Mediterranean civilisations: history, current ties and today’s vibrant cultures.
Developed in partnership with the State, the city of Marseille, the General Council of Bouches-du-Rhône and the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur Region, the MuCEM represents the first true relocation of a national museum from Paris to a regional capital. Its collection, consisting of nearly one million works and objects, will be transported in its entirety to Marseille.
The third incarnation of a major museum devoted to society, the MuCEM’s origins date back to 1884, with the opening of a “room” on France at the Musée d’Ethnographie du Trocadéro. After more than half a century, from 1937, as the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires in Paris, the MuCEM now offers a view of the Mediterranean, its history, societies and heritage.
A museum of the 21st century, the MuCEM will focus principally on the cultures of the Mediterranean, from a comparative and multidisciplinary perspective in which Europe and the other continents bordering the Mediterranean will play a major role. It will offer a new perspective on the cultures of the Mediterranean.
Three sites, three settings with rich and surprising offerings to discover over 40,000 m2: the MuCEM will be a true museum of the 21st century, capable of attracting a vast audience through a wide range of activities. While some travel through the exhibitions, others can take in a lecture, concert, discussion, film screening… or simply enjoy an outdoors stroll in the Mediterranean gardens of Fort Saint-Jean. The MuCEM will be a place for living, open to all.
On the ground floor, a permanent itinerary through a landmark exhibition will present the major steps in the history of Mediterranean civilisations. On the second floor, two major exhibitions per year will be devoted to the societies, cities, places and peoples composing the Mediterranean.
There will be a major exhibition that will consolidate these aspects, with a two-fold aim: defining what civilisations of the Mediterranean basin have in common and what differentiates them by investigating their respective histories to understand them better, and helping pinpoint their specific qualities in comparison with the other great cradles of civilisation. This exhibition, covering 1,600m2, will be renewed every 3 years.
The MuCEM will, however, also address the problems of the modern world, through its cultural pro- gramming. Each year, the museum will present two large temporary exhibitions (covering 1,500m2) and two medium-sized exhibitions (covering 500m2) as well as symposia, debates, films, documentaries and shows that will cover the major questions in the news in the Mediterranean basin. The intention is to create a real cultural centre open to major debates, particularly:
Questions of history, through the relationships of the Mediterranean world to the rest of Europe, especially the colonial heritage.
Questions of culture and belonging in the everyday world, related to the heritage of the past and the conventions of the present. Questions on artistic or intellectual subjects. The contemporary Mediterranean scene demonstrates the vitality of these societies.
It is through these initiatives that the MuCEM can assert itself as a major cultural project for the Mediterranean.