• Marionnette Italie Sicile 1990 © Yves Inchierman Mucem
    Marionnette Italie Sicile 1990 © Yves Inchierman Mucem
  • Masque Italie Sardaigne 2005 © Yves Inchierman  Mucem
    Masque Italie Sardaigne 2005 © Yves Inchierman Mucem
  • Bouquet de moisson Pologne 2013 ©  Yves Inchierman Mucem
    Bouquet de moisson Pologne 2013 © Yves Inchierman Mucem
  • Automate flutiste France 1878 ©  Yves Inchierman Mucem
    Automate flutiste France 1878 © Yves Inchierman Mucem
  • Manteau de femme Syrie 1900-1950 ©  Yves Inchierman Mucem
    Manteau de femme Syrie 1900-1950 © Yves Inchierman Mucem

5 years already!

Mucem acquisitions since 2013
Centre de conservation et de ressources (CCR) | From Tuesday 22 May 2018 to Thursday 31 January 2019

  • Last days

In June 2018, the Mucem will celebrate its 5th year since it opened its doors – a timely moment for a first retrospective on a little known aspect of its work: the building-up of its collections.  These include purchases from individuals, art market professionals, public sales, field investigations, etc.

Some fifty varied objects – planned acquisitions as well as lucky finds – demonstrate the skill of a team of 15 conservation experts who share a passion for sourcing items that stand testament to European and Mediterranean civilisations.

There is also an aim to bring up the core values that guide the enrichment of Mucem’s funds, that were established around a spirit of open mindedness with respects to its area of competency – both geographic (geared towards the Mediterranean) just as much as disciplinary (via an ethnological, historic, culture or History of Art approach). This event will demonstrate the broad diversity of acquisitions, from the most refined works of art to everyday, prosaic objects.

Curation: Jean-Roch Bouiller, head of conservation for Mucem’s Contemporary Art section—Emilie Girard: head of conservation for Heritage and director of the Collections department and Beliefs & Religions theme manager at Mucem.

With the collaboration of: Anaïs Avossa, deputy head of archives—Sophie Bernillon, library manager—Marie-Charlotte Calafat, manager of the History section—Edouard de Laubrie, Agriculture & Food theme manager—Julia Ferloni, Crafts and Industry theme manager—Vincent Giovanonni, Entertainment Arts theme manager—Mireille Jacotin, Public Life theme manager—Marie-Pascale Mallé, the Body, Appearance & Sexuality theme manager—Isabelle Marquette, Mobilities, Blended Communities &  Communication theme manager—Florent Molle, Sports, Health & Medicine theme manager—Frédéric Mougenot, Domestic Life theme manager—Fabienne Tiran, head of Archives.
Scenography: Laurence Villerot—Coco d’en Haut
Abel, Act Up Paris,  Agglolux – CBL, Laurence Alessandri, Michel Amadéi, Amorim, Guillemette Andreu-Lanoë, Frédérique Arsène-Henry, the Masnat Association, the Sevin-Doering Workshop, AVAAZ, Les Balayeuses Archivistiques, Guiorgi Barisacvili, Amaia Basterratxa, Angèle Bastide, Liliane Benoit, Farid Berki, Mailin Budinov, Claire Calogirou, the Camps-Fabrer family, Pardalinho Chocalhos, the Carnival Committee of Fosses-la-Ville, the General Council of Isère, the Heritage Conservatory of Freinet, Tom Craig, CulturesInterface, Christian Dallemagne, Michael Degour, DIAM Bouchage, Andrée Doucet, Ed One, El Xupet Negre, Marcel Ferra-Mestre, Daniel Fourneuf, Etienne Fraysse, Uta Gabler, Mostafa Gad, Florian Galinat, Germain-Gidde Maryse, Françoise Gestin, Marie-Paule Giraud, Nessim Gad, Henry Henein, Catherine Homo-Lechner,  Jaye, Edmond Junqué, Sylvie Karnycheff, Kayone, Liliane Kleiber, Pierre Labeyrie, Jean-François Leroux, Paolo Lima, Geneviève Lombardo, Stanislaw Makara, Merab Mikeladze, Myriame Morel Deledalle, Frederick Mulder, the Carnival Museum of Cologne, the Schemenlaufen Museum of Imst, the International Museum of Carnivals and Masks in Binche, Napal, Ouména, Peor, Florence Pizzorni, Josiane Pouvesle, Rendo, Rose, Thierry Ruiz, Lia Lapithi Shukuroglou, Sixe, the Carnival Society of Sarregemines, Laure Soustiel, the Abdessemed Studio, Philippe Subrini, SOS,  Terre de Provence, the Jacqueline Terrer family, Laurent Théry, Apostolos Tzitzakakis, the Sugheri Piemontese Factory, Anaïs Vaillant, Christophe Vallianos, Vandalo, Bernard Vercruyce, Annie Vidal, Philippe Vincent, Barbara Woch, Fani Zguro.

The event will run from until Thursday 31 January 2019.
Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm (National holiday on Monday 21 May).
Free entrance.

Interview with Emile Girard, curator of the exhibition

Where does the Mucem source these objects?

Why is the Mucem, whose collection already numbers over a million items, continuing to add to it?

Emilie Girard (E.G.)

The collection is indeed both rich and large, but historically it has been very linked to French culture, inasmuch as the Mucem inherited assets from the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions. In fact until around 2000, the collection was essentially French. Since the museum set itself the breadth of the Mediterranean region, it thus became necessary to re-vector our acquisitions policy in favour of this new area of competency. For the year 2017, 82% of Mucerm acquisitions come from the Mediterranean area. This says it all.


Traditional jewellery from the Maghreb, contemporary video art, a flute playing automaton, an Albanian cement mixer, … the objects presented in this exhibition demonstrate great diversity in the collections. What connects them all? And how are each of them potentially pertinent to the Mucem?


Each of these objects says something about the society that produced them, from geographic and cultural, as well as historic, points of view. They are witnesses to an epoque and of a social practice. From Popular Art objects to actual works of art, each demonstrates the context in which it was made.
Take the example of the Albanian cement mixer: it comes from a building site and was then painted by the artist who thus changed its status. It is no longer a commonplace object, but a work of art. Moreover, the artist painted on it motifs that can be found in certain traditional Albanian textiles. This neatly illustrates our policy of being geared towards Contemporary Art, but always with a connection to the historic collections of the museum.


Sometimes, they are offered to us directly, through donation proposals or purchases undertaken by individuals. We are also approached by galleries and auction houses. But in many cases, it’s the conservators themselves who go off to locate an object. Every conservator has their own specialised area of interest, which involves following developments in relevant galleries and sales catalogs and building up a network of collectors and amateurs, who will help find new objects of interest and new sources for the Mucem collections.

Mucem As well as traditionally sourced acquisitions, Mucem has also established acquisition campaigns all around the Mediterranean basin. So this really is something that marks the museum out?

It is indeed albeit unusual, but very useful for a museum about society such as the Mucem. We first define a specific research theme for a period of one, two or three years, and then send out field investigators whose goal is to come back with “contextualised” objects, ie those that have come about through statements, research and interviews, and allow us to harvest the most information. This strategy enables us to obtain sets of objects with a clear context as to their origin.


What sort of objects stem from such investigatory acquisitions?


One example is the Tom Craig photograph fund that was acquired further to a major HIV Aids campaign and which documents the fight against the virus during the 1980s.  Others are objects linked to graffiti, which are part of an acquisitions policy carried out by the museum for over 10 years in France, and also in Italy, Spain, the Maghreb, etc. This began before the current craze in the market for this type of discipline.

Mucem At what point once an object has been located that is a decision reached about acquisition?

First, every conservator puts forward an acquisition proposal during monthly internal meetings. If the committee validates this, the next phase involving the acquisitions committee begins and it meets once a year. Members include Mucem representatives as well as others from outside bodies (Ministry of Culture, other museums, a restorer, etc) and they vote on whether to acquire the item(s) or not. There is also a third phase for items that will cost over a certain threshold and this depends on the the Museums Service of the Ministry of Culture, who exercise a statutory duty.  In the last five years, the Mucem thus acquired over 1,700 objects.

Mucem Can the general public view these new acquisitions?

Some are shown during temporary exhibitions, as for instance with the items linked to the carnaval we acquired for the exhibition “The World upside down” in 2014.
Mucem entire collection can also be viewed online on the museum website. Lastly, it’s also possible for anyone to make an appointment at the Center for Conservation and Resources at la Belle de Mai in central Marseille. Whether a researcher, a high school or university student, or just someone who’s curious, it’s possible to view any object there – recently acquired or not – from the museum’s collections.




Exhibition itinerary

Some fifty objects acquired since 2013

5 ans déjà ! © Gabriel Popoff Mucem

This exhibition, which presents some fifty objects acquired since 2013 that include graffiti, jewelry, masks, religious ritual objects, paintings, textiles, puppets, ceramics, videos and photos, thus allow for:

—a display of some of the ways the collections have evolved and thereby highlight the principles that guide the enrichment of Mucem assets from the perspective of its area of competence, just as much geographic (the Mediterranean) as disciplinary (via ethnological, historic, cultural and History of Art perspectives);

—a testament to the variety of acquired objects, from the everyday and prosaic, to works of art;

—a presentation of Mucem’s own acquisition methods, from the traditional (donations; purchases from individuals, art market professionals; and public sales) to those particular to the museum (using investigative gathering techniques);

—a chance to view objects that have either never or rarely been on show at the Mucem, sourced from its most recent acquisitions.


5 ans déjà ! (c) Mucem

The scenography for the exhibition, created by Coco d’en Haut, underscores these aims, all the while putting the exhibits centerstage, with each accompanied by a short text explaining the rationale behind its acquisition.

This aspect of the museum’s work, often unseen even by its own teams, can be appreciated in the very place where, on the one hand its collections are continuously being built up, and on the other preserved.


The Centre for Conservation and Resources, the hidden part of Mucem

Centre de conservation et de ressources (c) Spassky Fischer

The Centre for Conservation and Resources (CCR) was designed by the architect Corinne Vezzoni as a conservation and dissemination hub. Housing the entirety of the Mucem’s collections since 2012, it is foremost where assets are preserved and the museum’s scientific team studies, documents, enriches, and restores this vast inventoried collection of 330,000 objects and documents, 150,000 titles preserved in the library, and a kilometre of paper, sound and audiovisual archives.  
The CCR is therefore very much a living space where the collections continue to be enriched, with over 1,700 acquisitions in the last five years, and which are very regularly leant out. In 2017 for instance, no less than 900 objects were on loan to other museums in France and abroad.

Unusually, the CCR is also open to the public and this function was very much part of the thinking during its design phase in order to integrate specially dedicated areas for this purpose.