Gallery of the Mediterranean
From Friday 7 June 2013 to Monday 5 June 2017
The Galerie de la Méditerranée (Gallery of the Mediterranean) is one of the Mucem's exhibition areas on the ground floor of the building on the J4 pier. It displays a series of sites, people and journeys covering a 1,500 m2 floor area. Mediterranean society is broken down into four civilizations that existed from the Neolithic period to the present day.
The visitor discovers a wide variety of objects and works of art coming partly from museum collections, that also benefits from a large number of artefacts that have been generously loaned by institutions in France and abroad. Everyday objects mixed in with works of art, bearing witness to the practices and beliefs of the past and the present. A large number of graphic works, drawings, prints, paintings on canvas, framed icons and paintings are displayed, thereby describing and illustrating events that occurred in the societies concerned.
Throughout the tour, there are creations from every period, from the figurines of the Neolithic period to the contemporary works that are representative of the latest issues facing the society of today.
1st special feature—The birth of agriculture and the emergence of the gods
The first of these special features proposed by the Gallery is that of Mediterranean agriculture. This emerged 10,000 years ago, when man had successfully domesticated certain animal species and plant varieties and when they began to believe in the existence of divinities that governed their farming world.
The presentation of farming equipment, religious figurines and works of art highlight the significance of wheat crops.
This is one of the foundations of the civilizations of the Mediterranean region, along with the growing of vines and olive tree plantations and the breeding of migrating livestock. The delicate issue of freshwater will also be addressed, with a description of the use of the Egyptian sakia, a large centuries-old device for irrigating crops.
2nd special feature —Jerusalem
The second special feature is monotheism, or the worship of a unique God, described through the key example of Jerusalem.
This town was considered to be a holy site by the three monotheist religions that initially grew in the neighbouring countries of the eastern Mediterranean: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Thanks to the objects used in the acts of worship and a plentiful religious iconography, this example provides a way to understand the most significant sites, practices and beliefs of these three confessions: the personality of the prophets and anointed people, the holy scriptures, prayer, pilgrimage and perceptions of the supernatural.
3rd special feature—Citizens and responsibility
The third section of the Gallery addresses the idea of civic-minded behaviour in Mediterranean and European societies from the Athenian democracy to the contemporary defence of human and citizens' rights.
The visitor travels through several preselected stages in the sinuous history of these political and social conceptions, between the citizenship of antiquity viewed as a privilege and an ideal, inherited from the enlightenment in Europe, that made every man a citizen with inalienable rights.
4th special feature—Beyond the known world
The fourth and final special feature is an invitation to go on a journey.
A succession of maritime exploration tools are displayed along with luxurious and exotic treasures, gathered together in a cabinet of modern curiosities. They tell of how the fascination for the distant shores of the Mediterranean and the East drove men to overcome the dangers of travelling, going on trading expeditions or holidays.
This fascination is what created and reinforced at the same time an artificial dreamlike perception of the Mediterranean, that finishes off the Gallery and is developed further in the "Le Noir et le Bleu. Rêves de Méditerranée" temporary exhibition.
The multimedia guide is available at the J4 and Fort Saint-Jean ticket offices.
—Available in English, French, Spanish, German, Italia
—Available in French Sign Language and audio description
One-off rental cost: €2
Free for visually and hearing impaired visitors.