I spent a day in Marseille last week visiting the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM) near the old harbor. In 2013 Marseille was named European Capital of Culture and the MuCEM, designed by French architects Rudy Ricciotti and Roland Carta, was inaugurated in June 2013 as part of the celebration.
The museum was built right next to the 17th century Fort Saint Jean on a former port terminal called J4. There’s a channel that separates the two sites but they’ve been cleverly interlinked by a high footbridge that gives you an amazing view over the Mediterranean and the old harbor. On top of the museum there’s a terrace where you can drink champagne and eat fresh oysters. It’s a very relaxing atmosphere and you can spend the entire day exploring the whole site.
Apart from the exterior of the museum and the whole setting, the museum itself is worth a visit too. The permanent exhibition, the “Galerie de la Méditerranée”, gives you an interesting look at the region’s history. The gallery is divided into four categories. The first is about the development of the region’s agriculture, the second is about Jerusalem and its three religions that influenced the entire Mediterranean world, the third is about the development of the notion of citizenship going from the French revolution to the Arab spring and the fourth is about the discovery of the unknown and talked mainly about explorers such Columbus and Magellan.
The temporary exhibition features a series of pictures by Magnum photographer Raymond Depardon. From his travels around the world capturing a country’s hardships to daily life in Marseille, it is a retrospective of Depardon’s work and his learning process as a photographer.
More information here.