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Though Marseille may only be the second largest city in France, it has the recognition of being the oldest city. Established over 2,500 years ago, the city has an extensive history, beginning with the early Greek colonies to its now thriving culture. Luckily, museums conveniently house the important information and artifacts you should know about. Read our list to discover the best museums in Marseille, France.
Marseille history museum
Open for a little over 30 years now, the Musée d’histoire de Marseille was the first historical museum to be established in the city. Though the museum’s construction wasn’t completed until the 1980s, the site that it sits on was excavated in 1967. During the excavation, there were numerous archaeological discoveries; today, these discovered remnants are featured in the museum. Some include the hull of a 2nd century ship, Roman wreckage, ancient Greek pottery, beautiful mosaics, and more. Take a guided tour for interactive learning, or explore independently for a personal experience. With special courses aimed at engage youth, the museum is great for children and is a popular place for schools to visit.
Museum of fine arts
Located within a wing of the grand Palais Longchamp, the Musée des Beaux-Arts houses exquisite fine art pieces from the 16th-19th centuries. Established in 1801, it is the oldest museum in Marseille. Discover remarkable collections of sculptures, paintings, and drawings from historically famous artists, painters, cartoonists, and more. The museum features over three floors of work from French, Italian, Spanish, and Flemish artists from a variety of periods. In addition to art within the walls, the structure of the museum is a work of art itself. Notice the magnificent fountain at the center entrance, in addition to the outside sculptures and paintings along the staircase.
This beautiful 19th-century home houses the personal collection of the bourgeoisie Grobet-Labadié family. After wealthy French businessman and trader Louis Grobet died in the early 1900s, his daughter gifted their family mansion, and impressive art collection, to the city. The house has since been converted to a museum, and displays the refined art of the 19th century high society. Explore paintings, tapestries, sculptures, ceramics, and stained glass; you can also view the furniture and musical instruments that were popular during the period. The museum gives visitors the opportunity to walk back in time to see how the rich and famous lived. The diverse collection displays both the glamour and skill of past artists.
Natural history museum
Located in the Palais Longchamp, in the opposite wing that houses the Musée d’histoire de Marseille, is the Muséum d’histoire Naturelle de Marseille. This natural history museum was founded in 1819, and has been a popular place for tourists and locals to visit for over a century. With over 80,000 animal specimens, 20,000 plant specimens, and 8,000 minerals and rocks, Muséum d’histoire Naturelle is the best place to discover the human, animal, plant, and earth sciences. Take a tour, attend a workshop or event, or participate in a program for a stellar educational and cultural opportunity. Look out for free entry on the first Sunday of each month!
Modern museum of culture
Known colloquially as MuCEM, this Marseille museum is dedicated to the civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean. The exterior of the museum is made up of latticework shell of strong concrete, giving the building a fresh, modern look. It was built at the entrance to the harbor, giving guests beautiful views of the bay. MuCEM features collections of historic sculptures and artifacts, as well as modern art exhibits that detail the European and Mediterranean culture. Take a guided tour, watch films, participate in interactive activities, and attend programs and events that the museum hosts to educate the public and bring the community together.
By: Shyla Watson