Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations – Marseille, France - Atlas Obscura

Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations

This modern museum of Mediterranean culture is surrounded by a surreal concrete honeycomb. 


Sitting on the shore of the Port of Marseille is the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MuCEM), a starkly modern cube, connected to the mainland by a skybridge, contained in a swirling concrete cage.

Opened in 2013, the museum seeks to celebrate the various cultures of the Mediterranean in one collection that features both permanent and rotating exhibitions. However the art and culture on display inside the museum may be be slightly overshadowed by the ostentatious building it is contained in. The main museum building sits in the port like a little island, with a narrow bridge connecting to the historic Fort Saint-Jean, which is also part of the museum. The newer building was designed in an ultra-modern style which allows light to filter in through the porous concrete cube surrounding the center. A roof deck also allows visitors to take in the sun off the Mediterranean.

The museum has been viewed by some critics as a bit audacious for a facility that is meant to shine a light on cultures that are too rarely distinguished. Unfortunately, the critics may be right as the site of the bizarrely futuristic building is hard to ignore for the merits inside of it, not to mention its spurious connection to the goals of the museum. With luck, this idiosyncrasy will spur interest in what the building contains.

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