The Mucem

Mucem

Marseille

The Mucem, a flagship project for the Mediterranean
Suspended between the sky and the water, floating at the entrance to Marseille's Vieux Port, the Mucem (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations) takes advantage of two new footbridges. Thanks to its position overlooking the open sea, this museum has been a major project for the Mediterranean, uniting its two shores.

Marseille is home to a museum that reflects the city itself: perched on the northern shores of the Mediterranean, looking out to the open sea, exposed to winds of change.

Vidéo © Cityscape

This parallelepiped rectangle shrouded in a lace mantilla veil represents a powerful architectural symbol in a city experiencing major change—providing a bridge between the Mediterranean and Europe.

An emblematic site symbolizing the marriage between Marseille and the Mediterranean
More than just a museum, the Mucem is Marseille's brand new public space: access to the outdoor areas of Fort Saint-Jean and J4 is free. Thanks to its footbridges that provide a new pedestrianized link between the historic districts of the city and the former port area, which has been redeveloped as part of the "Euroméditerranée" urban renewal project, the Mucem has become a natural part of the daily life of a large number of residents. This free access has generated a strong sense of ownership of the museum, especially since this site (which was previously inaccessible) provides a kind of beautified stage for the relationship between the city and the sea, which is highly valued by inhabitants.

The chosen site—the Fort Saint-Jean and the J4 pier of the port of Marseille—where the Vieux-Port meets the Joliette docks at the bow of the city, is totally in keeping with the theme of the museum.

The site occupied by the Mucem is therefore one that is steeped in history and memories, at the heart of a prestigious heritage district—the Major Cathedral, Saint-Laurent Church, and views over the Pharo Palace, Saint-Victor Abbey, the sea, and the islands of Frioul—opening out onto the world.

44,000 m² over three sites

Three sites, three different settings, powerful and surprising propositions spread over 44,000 m²: J4, the heart of the museum; Fort Saint-Jean, a new living space; and the Conservation and Resources Center, behind the scenes of the museum.

The Mediterranean has a new address: the Mucem

J4: the heart of the Mucem
Positioned between the town and the sea, on the site of the former J4 pier, the 16,500 m² building designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti (in collaboration with Roland Carta) features 3,690 m² of exhibition space. A space dedicated to the discovery of the civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean, covering a variety of different topics to enhance our understanding of the modern world.

Views, sea, sun, and stone work together in a design which has become federative and cognitive. First, there is the perfect cube, measuring 72 meters from one side to the other—a classic Latin design, overseen by Pythagoras. Inside this cube, there is a second receptacle measuring 52 meters across and including the exhibition and conference halls. This is recognized as the beating heart of the museum.

The building's lighting by Yann Kersalé.

At night, the Mucem reproduces the vibrations of the Mediterranean in the form of a colored light installation.

Surrounded by docks and facing the sea, J4 offers panoramic views of Fort Saint-Jean and the Mediterranean, which are visible from the glazed exhibition halls, the roof terrace, and the external walkways that encircle the building. It is connected to Fort Saint-Jean by a 115-meter-long aerial footbridge.

The delicate concrete mesh that surrounds the museum's cube is an unmistakable architectural signature of Rudy Ricciotti. It has helped the Mucem achieve "object of globalization" status and become internationally renowned.

Take a walk on the J4 terrace in 360°

Fort Saint-Jean: a new living space
At the entrance to the port of Marseille, above the J4 pier, Fort Saint-Jean welcomes exhibitions, shows, and a historical and botanical journey thanks to the "Jardin des Migrations." Fort Saint-Jean constitutes a genuine juncture between the city and the museum, between history and the contemporary.

Whilst Fort Saint-Jean has 12th Century roots, this former military fort was once totally inaccessible to the public and had been, until now, an impregnable fortress.

The fort is linked to the new J4 by a 115 m-long footbridge, whilst a second footbridge, which is 70 m long, has been built between the port and forecourt of Saint-Laurent church in the Panier district. This ensures a continuity between the oldest part of the city and the new cultural facilities concentrated along the coastal road.

Take the famous Mucem footbridge!

The restoration works on the Historic Monument of Fort Saint-Jean were carried out under the supervision of François Botton, the Chief Architect for Historic Monuments.

Today, this historical monument enjoys an exceptional and freely accessible setting spread over 15,000 m².

Have a look at the site in 360°, from the top of the Fanal Tower

Conservation and Resource center: Behind the scenes of the museum
The Mucem also features a Conservation and Resource Center (CCR). Located in the Belle de Mai district, not far from Saint-Charles train station, this center was designed by architect Corinne Vezzoni in collaboration with André Jollivet (AURA agency).

CCR main entrance

This 13,000 m² building, which includes 7,000 m² of storage space, is home to: almost 200,000 objects; 135,000 paintings, prints, and drawings; 355,000 photographs; 140,000 postcards; and almost 150,000 books and periodicals, not to mention the vast paper, sound, and audiovisual archives.

Explore the Mucem's collections in 360°

Since the year 2000, these collections, which were inherited from the National Museum of Popular Arts and the Museum of Mankind, Paris, (with a store containing more than 30,000 objects) have been enriched with objects originating in the Mediterranean area, from Neolithic artifacts to modern art. They are stored according to preventative conservation standards in this building, which has been designed specifically to ensure their safety and conservation.

Credits: Story

© Mucem 2017

This exhibition has been created by Mucem curators. Explore the Mucem’s collections

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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