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The 10 Best Museums In Marseille

Published by: Bounce28 June, 2022

Marseille is a lovely city to visit that is full of history and also the best museums that you can see in this part of the world. You can find everything from modern art to art galleries, decorative arts, and even Egyptian antiquities when you visit museums in this amazing city. When you are planning your trip to Marseille, you will want to have these Marseille museums on your list of things to do and see while you are in town.

The first thing that needs to be done when you arrive in Marseille, is that you need to make sure that your luggage is safe. You can't have fun at any modern art, contemporary art, or Mediterranean culture collection if you are lugging around all of your bags with you. Make sure that you take the time to place your bags in secure storage in Marseille before you head out to make the most of your visit. With your bags stored, you will not have anything to worry about as you enjoy all of the massive collections that are on offer here in Marseille.

Best Museums in Marseille

Whether you have come to Marseille through the Gare Saint Charles, or another method of travel, you are just steps from all kinds of amazing art history and museums of all kinds.

MuCEM (Musée des Civilizations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée)

This is a national museum and it holds a massive collection of European and Mediterranean culture exhibitions. This is a permanent collection that can take hours to work your way through and you will have access to fine arts, contemporary art, modern art, and even historical pieces that you cannot see in other parts of the city. This is also a cool location as it's in the Old Port, which is also a really unique place to see when you are in the city.

This large collection is comprised of 250,000 objects, 350,000 photographs, 150,000 books, 100,000 postcards, and 80,000 sound archives that tell the story of the history and culture of both the Mediterranean and Europe as well. This is so much more than just an art collection and you will not forget your visit to this lovely museum.

Musée d'Arts Africains, Océaniens, Amérindiens (MAAOA)

This amazing collection is dedicated to works of art and culture from Oceania, the Americas, and Africa. The collection is divided up into the Africa Room, the Mexico Room, and the Oceania-Americas Room. You will see Tree of Life exhibitions here as well as masks, statuary from these places, and other cultural items that are not usually preserved to be displayed.

This is a very unique and special collection that is located in an ideal spot if you are spending a day traveling around the city to enjoy history and art.

Musée d’histoire de Marseille

This is a fairly new museum for the city as it has been around for only 30 years or so. This museum holds a lot of really cool things to see, however, like the hull of a second-century ship and a lot of ancient Greek pottery. You will also be treated to mosaics and information and artifacts from various Mediterranean civilizations. This is a great choice if you want to go to a museum that is not as large as the MuCEM, but that holds some very special and unique pieces.

This might not be an ideal place to visit for young children as it is more targeted at adults. Teens and grown-ups can have a lot of fun here, however, and the collection is not so big that it will take you hours to get to see it all. And, if you need more activities for young kids, check out our guide on the best things to do with kids in Marseille.

Notre Dame

While not specifically a museum, this location is one of the most notable buildings in the world and it does offer a museum experience if you want to visit the medieval crypts that are beneath it. These crypts are some of the only such construction that was spared when Marseille was heavily remodeled and changed during the 1980s. Many of the artifacts that have found their way into collections throughout the city were discovered when the city was being modernized, but the crypts below the Notre Dame were spared.

If nothing else, it will be nice to visit this iconic church perched on a hilltop that's visible from the port and other areas of Marseille.

Musée Cantini

This is a lovely, smaller museum that holds its own unique treasures. This is one of the only collections of art in the city that is specifically dedicated to the history of modern art in the city as well as around the world and the pieces here are from 1900-1960. The collection at the Musée Cantini offers a very specific and targeted view of art in Marseille and you will love that these collections are so targeted at this more modern part of art history. From paintings to engravings and statues, there is a lot to see and enjoy here. You will not see any artifacts from Roman times, but you will find that this building houses some of the most unique and lovely art pieces from the more recent past.

Musée d’Archéologie Méditerranéenne

This collection is mostly dedicated to Egyptian antiquities, and you will want to head to this site if you want the chance to see sarcophagi, Egyptian art, and more. The exhibitions in this building are also really unique because many of them are dedicated to the lives of the common people who surrounded the kings and queens that are more famous.

If you are looking for a fully realized collection that tells a cohesive story of the people who populated Egypt during various periods, you will love that this museum will offer you exhibition options that are related to all of the various parts of Egyptian life.

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille

There are lots of French artists on display at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, such as Pierre Paul Puget, Charles Le Brun, Charles-Joseph Natoire, and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, but there are also Spanish painters represented in the collection. The Musée des Beaux-Arts location is considered one of the top museums in the world and you will love that this site will give you access to paintings, works from the middle ages like manuscripts and books, and also plenty of statues and sculptures. This is a large collection and you should plan to spend at least part of a day at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille.

Musée d'histoire Naturelle

The Musée d'histoire Naturelle is housed in a truly lovely building and it is considered one of the finest natural history collections in France. There are many preserved animals on display here as well as exhibitions of the other natural history that is related to this part of France. Natural history museums used to be the standard in the early 1900s, and this museum was no different. The collection was gathered during a time when France, Britain, and Spain were discovering all kinds of new places and cultures, and you can see this quite clearly in the history of the collection that is housed here. The Musée d'histoire Naturelle is worth a visit, even if natural history is not your favorite kind of art exhibition to see.

Musée des arts Décoratifs

This is a collection that is dedicated to the applied arts and has existed since 1882. This collection is carefully curated and it is very unique among the art galleries and art collections in the city. You will love that there is an exciting museum in the city that houses this kind of collection and this spot offers a very different experience from places like the Musée des Beaux-Arts, but one that is equally impressive.

Musée des Docks Romains

This is a really cool museum that is outdoors and which is comprised of the remnants of a Roman warehouse and docks. There is also the remnant of some medieval homes here and nautical artifacts from more than twenty shipwrecks that happened in this part of the nearby harbor. This is a perfect spot to learn more about the commercial history of Marseille and its role as an important port city.

What are the best free museums in Marseille?

Marseille offers lots of free things to do. Most of the museums in the city are free on the first Sunday of each month, but this is the one day that this is the case. If your timing is right, you might want to make the most of this day for all of your visits to the different museums that you want to see.

Notre Dame is actually free to access, although the crypt is not free. You can tour the beauty of Notre Dame itself, however, which is a very important experience that speaks to the culture of Marseille as well as the history of worship in France.

The Cathedrale de la Major is also free, and this is a great way to expand your knowledge about churches and the history of worship in Marseille. There are various more modern houses of worship that are not far away, but you will be missing out if you do not put these two church locations on your list of free things to do.

While not technically a museum, the Old Port of Marseille is a great place to head to learn about the city and enjoy the amazing buildings and displays that tell the story of the commercial history of the city. There are various displays that tell you about the city in this area and you can easily spend the better part of a day touring this part of Marseille for free. Additionally, this is the perfect spot to enjoy a meal at a sit-down restaurant or one of the best street food vendors in the city.

Which are the best museums in Downtown Marseille?

MuCEM is one of the best downtown museums in Marseille and as we have already mentioned, there is a lot of lovely art to see and enjoy in this location. The
Musée d’Archéologie Méditerranéenne is not far away and this Egyptian exhibition is one of the most amazing things to see and do in downtown Marseille.

The Musée de la Moto is a neat museum that is dedicated to motorsports. There is everything from small and light moped bikes to larger touring bikes on display here. If you love motorsports, this is a must-visit in the downtown area.

Are there any cheap museums in Marseille?

The Pétanque Museum is a great place to visit if you want to have an affordable museum experience and you want to learn about a cultural pastime that is a key part of Marseille's history. There is also a little museum that is dedicated to the French National anthem and its creation called La Marseillaise Museum. This is a really fun, but brief exhibit that you can enjoy while you are in the city to learn a little more about the way that the anthem came to be.

There is also a Soap Museum which is very informative about this very important industry that has been a big part of Marseille's economy for generations. Marseille was once the place where all designer and finer soaps came from and you can learn all about this part of the city's history at this well-laid-out museum. The Santon Museum is another affordable option that tells the story of the classic little clay figurines that have also been made in Marseille for generations.

Conclusion

Marseille is an ideal place to visit if you love to learn about the culture and history of the places that you visit. There are so many museums to enjoy here that you could easily spend your whole trip going to different historical sites and checking out various kinds of art exhibitions and cultural museums. You will have a great time in Marseille for many reasons, but if you love art and culture, this will be one of the best places that you have ever visited.

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