Marrakech to be Home to National Museum of Carpets

Closeup of details of a Moroccan rug
Closeup of details of a Moroccan rug | © Karsten Wentink / Flickr
Sarah Williams

Morocco’s magical Marrakech has many interesting museums that allow visitors to delve deeper into the city’s past, culture, and traditions. September 2017 will see a new museum opening its doors in the Red City: The National Carpet Museum.

Carpet industry and heritage in Morocco

Traditional Moroccan rugs are woven by hand. Designs and techniques are usually passed down through the generations, with artisans generally having no formal training. Carpets have been produced in the kingdom for many hundreds of years, used as bedding, seating, clothing, and saddle covers for camels and donkeys. Rugs are typically made for practical purposes as opposed to any aesthetic value.

Thick rugs are most common in the highs of the Atlas Mountains, where temperatures can be bitingly cold in the winter, and thinner carpets are more prevalent in the Saharan regions. Moroccan homes typically have tiled floors, with several rugs spread throughout; wall-to-wall carpeting is not common. Rugs can also be found inside tents, offering protection and comfort.

There is high demand for locally produced carpets, both from locals and from tourists. Handmade Moroccan carpets are exported for overseas sale too.

Weaving carpets in Morocco

Reopening of a former museum

The carpet museum will be housed within a former museum, previously known as the Museum of Moroccan Arts. The building has been closed for a period while undergoing changes and renovations, as well as a name change.

Regeneration of the museum is part of a wider project that was set up by King Mohammed VI in 2014. A number of sites with significant heritage are part of the scheme, which is known as the “Marrakech, city of permanent renewal” project.

Carpets hanging over a wall in Morocco

Museum housed within a historic building

The building was completed in the 19th century, constructed as a grand palace for a wealthy local. The opulent former home is called Dar Si Said. It is a great example of a traditional Moroccan home from the past. Featuring splendid zellige tile work, ornate carved wood, and delicate plasterwork, visitors can explore the inner courtyard, complete with an ornamental fountain, balconied boudoirs, the former harem area, and various other chambers and rooms.

Inside Dar Si Said

New collections in Dar Si Said

The forthcoming National Carpet Museum in Marrakech will contain striking carpets and rugs from all around Morocco. Visitors will be able to admire and appreciate the skill that goes into creating the simultaneously beautiful and practical items. Regional designs and variations can be observed throughout the collection, with both traditional Arab and Berber carpets on display. Many major cities and towns in Morocco have distinct styles when it comes to carpets and rugs, with Fez especially noted for its high-class products.

The National Museum of Carpets at Dar Si Said, set to open at the end of September 2017, will provide the perfect place for people to learn more about the country’s carpet-making industry and see a dazzling array of exhibits. With around 400 rugs and carpets on display, there will be a lot to feast the eyes on.

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