An Introduction to the Musée de la Romanité, Nimes

Musée de la Romanité
Musée de la Romanité | © Stéphane Ramillon

The Musée de la Romanité is a new Roman museum in the centre of Nîmes, France that whisks visitors on a dizzying voyage through 25 centuries of history. Nîmes is famous for its ancient past, and the museum is swathed in a toga of glass tiles to honour the Roman identity onto which this historical city so proudly clings.

What’s to see at the Musée de la Romanité?

The Musée de la Romanité, which opened on June, 2 2018, presents an impressive 5,000 national heritage works of exceptional archaeological and artistic value. These rare artefacts represent 25 centuries of history, corresponding to the major periods – Gallic, Roman and medieval.

Among the items on show are 1,000 Latin inscriptions and 65 gorgeous mosaics, a range of glass relics and oil lamps, plus rare bone and ivory tablet-making objects.

The new €59.5 million complex will also be hosting a range of exciting temporary exhibitions, like ‘Gladiators: heroes of the Colosseum’, which plies the fascinating period of history to which the city is so closely linked for inspiration.

As well as this fascinating insight, the complex also offers great views of the city. The green roof terrace boasts an amazing 360-degree panoramic view over Nîmes, making it one of the best places to gaze at the historic centre.

Musée de la Romanité

What makes this museum so unique?

The Musée de la Romanité is one of the largest contemporary architectural and cultural projects in France. Its exceptional archaeological collection includes 25,000 pieces, of which around 5,000 are displayed across 3.5km of space, which also makes it one of the biggest museums in the country. However, the most unique aspect of this museum is, of course, the design.

The building was designed by Elizabeth de Portzamparc, who constructs her buildings as architectural symbols that carry strong values. In this case, she has created an incredible structure that is swathed in a toga of 7,000 glass tiles to honour the ancient past that the city is so proud of. She sees the museum as a ‘Citizen of Nîmes’ wrapped in its own toga.

The building is located opposite the Arena of Nîmes, on the edge of the Écusson district, in the historic heart of the city. Noticeably, there’s a 20,000-seat Roman amphitheatre just next door, which was once used for events such as the Great Roman Games. This played a part in inspiring the curious toga-esque architectural design.

Musée de la Romanité

Why is Nîmes a history lover’s paradise?

The Roman monuments in Nîmes are in a remarkable state of conservation. Among the city’s flagship monuments, like the Arena, there’s also La Maison Carrée, the Tour Magne and the Temple of Dianamars. Nîmes is one of the most authentic spots in France for discovering national heritage, and so it was about time that a monument celebrating this legacy, such as the Musée de la Romanité, was opened.

What’s more is that between 2006 and 2007, during general excavation work, a domus (Roman house) and two mosaics, known as Achilles and Pentheus, were discovered. In excellent condition, they were described by experts – to the city’s delight – as the ‘most beautiful pieces after those of Pompeii’.

It was this discovery that inspired Jean-Paul Fournier, Mayor of Nîmes, to put the Musée de la Romanité project firmly on the agenda. The specially built museum is now home to these three new discoveries, as well as artefacts previously kept in the Nîmes Archaeological Museum, which had become too cramped.

Musée de la Romanité

How much do tickets cost?

The full price of a ticket to this historical paradise is €8 with a concession price of €6. Children aged 7 to 17 years can enter for €3 and entry is free for any children up to six years old. To save money as a family, you can opt for the family package at €19 (two adults and two children). To make the most of the visit, you have the option to buy a video guide (available in four languages) for just €2.

When is the Musée de la Romanité open?

The Musée de la Romanité is open every day from June 2 to 30 and from September 1 to November 4, between the hours of 10am to 7pm. The opening hours are extended between July 1 and August 31, when the museum is open 10am–8pm. Once the holiday season is over, the museum will be open every day except Tuesday (from November 5 to March 31) and between 10am to 6pm.

Musée de la Romanité

Musée de la Romanité
+33 (0)1 48 21 02 10
16 boulevard des Arènes
30000 Nîmes, France

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