Marseille, a port city in southern France, is known for its rich history and cultural heritage.
One of the best ways to experience this is by visiting its museums. With a range of collections covering everything from ancient artifacts to contemporary art, there is something for everyone.
Here, we explore the 8 best museums to visit in Marseille.
MuCEM – Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée
This expansive museum complex is dedicated to the civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean, with a focus on the shared cultural heritage of the region. comprises of three distinct sites and offers a plethora of fascinating discoveries. Visitors can immerse themselves in the rich history of Mediterranean civilization through the museum’s galleries, lectures, and film screenings.
Designed by renowned architect Rudy Ricciotti, the newest section of the museum is constructed on the former J4 Pier and focuses on themes such as the creation of deities, treasures of the spice route, visions of Jerusalem, and the seven wonders of the world. The second stage of the museum is located in the vaulted rooms of the historic Fort Saint-Jean, which dates back to the 12th century. The Fort’s spectacular Mediterranean gardens, accessible via a suspended footbridge over the sea, offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy a picturesque stroll while taking in panoramic views of the coastline.It features a range of exhibits, including art, artifacts, and multimedia installations. 1 Esp. J4, 13002 Marseille. www.mucem.org
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille
The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille, also known as the Marseille Fine Arts Museum, is one of the oldest and most important art museums in Marseille, France. The museum is housed in the Palais Longchamp, a magnificent 19th-century palace that was built as a tribute to the construction of the Canal de Marseille. The Palais Longchamp is itself an impressive work of art, featuring stunning fountains and sculptures, as well as a beautiful park.
The museum’s collection consists of more than 15,000 works of art, ranging from ancient Greek and Roman sculptures to contemporary art pieces. The museum’s permanent collection is divided into several sections, including painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and drawings. Palais Longchamp Aile gauche, 9 Rue Edouard Stephan, 13004 Marseille. https://musees.marseille.fr/musee-des-beaux-arts-mba
The Musée Cantini is a museum of modern art housed in a beautiful 17th-century mansion, the Hôtel de Montgrand. The building was transformed into a museum in 1936 and in itself, plays an important piece of Marseille’s architectural heritage and is listed as a historical monument.
The museum’s collection comprises around 2,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints. The collection focuses primarily on modern and contemporary art, with a particular emphasis on the 20th century with a collection that includes works by important artists like Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, and Auguste Rodin. 19 Rue Grignan, 13006 Marseille. musees.marseille.fr
Musée d’Histoire de Marseille
The Musée d’Histoire de Marseille, also known as the Marseille History Museum, is a museum dedicated to the history of Marseille, France’s second-largest city. The museum is housed in the Centre Bourse, a large shopping center in the heart of the city.
The museum’s collection covers over 2,600 years of Marseille’s history, from its foundation as a Greek colony in 600 BCE to the present day. The collection includes more than 3,500 objects, including artifacts, sculptures, paintings, and maps in chronologically arranged galleries, with each room representing a different period of Marseille’s history. 2 Rue Henri Barbusse, 13001 Marseille. www.musee-histoire-marseille-voie-historique.fr
Musée de la Mode
The Musée de la Mode is a must-visit for fashion lovers and anyone interested in the history and evolution of clothing and textiles. Its collection includes over 25,000 pieces of clothing, accessories, and textiles, dating from the 18th century to the present day. Expect a range of styles and periods, from haute couture to streetwear, and works by both famous designers and anonymous artisans. The museum’s galleries are arranged thematically, with exhibits exploring different aspects of fashion, such as the history of the little black dress, the evolution of sportswear, and the influence of pop culture on fashion.
[Editor’s note: This museum is temporarily closed]
Musée Grobet-Labadié is a treasure trove of decorative arts. The museum boasts an impressive collection of over 25,000 objects, including furniture, ceramics, glassware, and textiles. The pièce de résistance of the museum is undoubtedly its vast array of French furniture pieces from the 19th century. Featuring chairs, tables, desks, and cabinets, the museum’s collection showcases the pinnacle of French furniture design from that period.
The collections of French art gathered during the latter half of the 19th century reflect the refined tastes of a bourgeois society captivated and enamored by various art forms. These collections exemplify the artistic eclecticism of the “enlightened” connoisseurs of that era.
Musée Regards de Provence
At the Regards de Provence museum, visitors can admire a vast collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, and drawings depicting Marseille, Provence, and the Mediterranean from the 18th century to the present day. In addition to its permanent displays, the museum regularly features temporary exhibitions showcasing modern and contemporary art.
Over time, the Regards de Provence Foundation has amassed a significant artistic collection of over 1000 works that are either directly or indirectly related to the southern region. With each exhibition theme, the Foundation unveils select pieces from its collection, often loaning them to museums, galleries, and artists worldwide. The collection features renowned artists such as Garibaldi, Guigou, Henry d’Arles, Lacroix de Marseille, Monticelli, Verdilhan, and Ziem, among others. Av. Vaudoyer, 13002 Marseille. www.museeregardsdeprovence.com/en
Musée Provençal de Château-Gombert
Located in Château Gombert, the Provençal Museum (formerly the Musée du Terroir Marseillais) is a popular arts and traditions museum that was established in 1927 by Jean-Baptiste Julien-Pignol, a félibre. It is one of France’s first museums dedicated to art and popular traditions and is the second largest ethnography museum in Provence, after the Museon Arlaten of Arles. In 2020-2021, the museum underwent restoration work on its historic premises. 5 Pl. des Héros, 13013 Marseille. www.museeprovencal.fr