Culture at the MuCEM

Inaugurated on 4 June 2013 to coincide with Marseille's nomination as European Capital of Culture, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, known as MuCEM, offers a wide range of insights into Mediterranean civilisations from prehistory to the present day. Opened to the public on 7 June 2013, it boasts an impressive cultural heritage encompassing all the disciplines of the humanities and artistic expressions from both sides of the Mediterranean. Between the ultra-modern J4 building and the twelfth-century Fort Saint-Jean, the desire to showcase the old and the new is palpable. The MuCEM enables visitors to understand the past, present and future challenges of the Mediterranean, its "cradle of civilisation" aspect and all its controversies. Today, it is the most visited museum in Marseilles, and a symbol of the city's openness to Europe and the world.

The entrance to the MUCEM.

- © Grisha Bruev / Shutterstock
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The MuCEM, a titanic project

Since the early 2000s, the city of Marseille has had the ambition of creating a real cultural and tourist project. The MuCEM (and its 10,000 square metres) is the precursor of this ambition. Built on the legendary J4 quay next to the Old Port, the building faces the sea. Visitors can see the liners from the Maghreb and other Mediterranean countries that dock in the city's port. But what makes the museum so special is the material used: technological concrete. This sophisticated material is common in industry, and was also used in the design of the footbridge linking the museum to Fort Saint-Jean.

The architecture of the MuCEM is unique.

- © Sergii Figurnyi / Shutterstock

The French architect Rudy Ricciotti, who designed the museum, campaigns for the preservation of architects' skills and a positive impact on the environment. He describes his work as "a project that is dematerialised, very feminine, but also very muscular, with tendons, nerves...". Before, the panorama of Marseille was reduced to the debris of Fort Saint-Jean and the Cathedral of Sainte-Marie Majeure at most. Now, the entrance to Marseille's Old Port is illuminated by the metal cube of the MuCEM, a project that looks out over the Mediterranean and the rest of Europe.

Why visit the MuCEM?

At the Musée des Civilisations d'Europe et de la Méditerranée, the permanent collections are on show for around a year, while the temporary exhibitions generally last a few months. So you can discover new things with each visit, but the Mediterranean and its peoples are always at the heart of the MuCEM's exhibitions.

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Discover this museum's superb collections, which put the spotlight on the Mediterranean and the people who live around it.
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The museum boasts an impressive collection of some 250,000 objects, 110,000 prints, posters, ethnographic drawings and paintings, 500,000 photographs, 140,000 postcards, 95,000 books, 460 hours of audiovisual recordings and several thousand phonograms, audiovisual recordings, scores and paper archives. History and art lovers will be delighted!

The rooftop restaurant at MuCEM.

- © travelview / Shutterstock

The MuCEM is also a complex that includes the J4 esplanade and Fort Saint-Jean. So you can wander freely through the MuCEM's futuristic corridors, have a drink or snack on its sea-view rooftop terrace, then take the footbridge linking the museum to the fort, bridging the gap between past and present. From here, you can deliberately lose yourself in the maze of Fort Saint-Jean, on a trail that combines history, nature and breathtaking panoramas. Each turn or staircase leads you to a new garden, a new historical fact or a new breathtaking viewpoint over the sea.

Our favourite hotel near the MuCEM

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Practical information for the MuCEM

A true symbol of Marseille's openness to the world, the MuCEM is a must-see when visiting Marseille. Allow around an hour to visit each exhibition, plus an extra hour to walk around the building.

📍 How do I get to the MuCEM?

The MuCEM is right next to Marseille's Vieux-Port, right in the city centre. It is about a 10-minute walk from the Joliette (metro 2) and Vieux-Port (metro 1 ) metro stations, as well as the République-Dames or Joliette tram stops served by the T1 and T2 trams. Buses 82, 82s, 60 and 49 also run to the MuCEM.

MUCEM and Fort Saint-Jean from above.

- © Samuel Borges Photography / Shutterstock

⏰ MuCEM opening times

The MuCEM is open every day except Tuesday, and is exceptionally closed on 1 May and 25 December. From 9 July to 30 August 2022, it is open from 10am to 8pm. It is then open from 10am to 7pm between 31 August and 6 November, then from 10am to 6pm from 7 November to 5 April. Finally, it is open from 10am to 7pm from 6 April to 8 July.

👛 MuCEM prices

  • Full price: €11
  • Concession: €7.5
  • Under 18s: free
  • Family ticket (up to 5 children accompanied by 2 adults): €18
  • Marseille City Pass: free

These prices give access to the permanent and temporary exhibitions. Admission to the permanent exhibition is free for under-26s. To find out all the prices and book your ticket, go directly to the official MuCEM website.

A few tips for your visit

  • Although admission to the exhibitions is subject to a charge, you can walk through the MuCEM free of charge.
  • You can hire an audio guide for €3.5.
  • A cloakroom is available on site and pushchairs are allowed.
  • The MuCEM has several restaurant areas.
  • Photography is permitted in most exhibitions, but you may not use a flash or tripod.
  • The MuCEM is accessible to people with reduced mobility.
by Jude JONES
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