Talking about the Mucem

el Seed-CCR © Christina Dimitrova

eL Seed

Street artist mixing Arabic calligraphy with graffiti

“The Mucem represents the civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean. I am at the crossroads between them, so it really spoke to me. I just couldn’t decline the invitation. I once a painted a small wall in L’Estaque, near Marseille, in 2013. I had written “link” in Arabic (referring to the link between Europe and Africa), because that was the thought that Marseille inspired in me. I wanted to leave my mark here. In fact, I had already been imagining what I wanted to do. I had been thinking for a while about the sculpture installed at the Mucem and asking myself where else I could build a sculpture made of soap, other than in Marseille? One thing led to another, and so it happened. Doing this project at the Mucem was the logical choice, because it is at the crossroads between the several worlds in which I live.

I usually paint murals, but I’m also trying to do new things. For example, I am sculpting: one of my sculptures is at the Mucem. It’s made of soap and has been chipped away. I enjoy creating ephemeral pieces, to really stay within the spirit of street art and other forms of art in public spaces, where the work belongs to the public and so can be destroyed, vandalized or covered up.

For the soap sculpture at the Mucem, I found a quotation from Jean-Claude Izzo in Total Chaos, where he wrote that “Marseille belongs to those who live there”. He also said that we all leave Marseille with something, so to me, this sculpture is a symbolic depiction of the city. I wanted people to take a piece away with them.

The fresco was much more spontaneous. I chose the colour at the last second. I had a phrase in mind and everyone was done in the moment at the Centre for Conservation and Resources (CCR), with no initial sketches. I feel very connected to history and keep lots of things like letters, drawings, and so on, because they all represent memories that hold a lot of value for me, so painting the CCR’s wall had real meaning. The wall wasn’t clean; it had a history. I liked that.”

For “Graffiti, Calligraphy and the Mediterranean”, eL Seed was given carte blanche to create a monumental fresco on the wall around the Centre for Conservation and Resources (CCR).
In parallel, at Fort Saint-Jean, near the entrance to the “Graffiti in the Mediterranean” exhibition, he installed a sculpture made of (real) Marseille soap.
Philippe Car, Co-fondateur de l'Agence de Voyages Imaginaires et metteur en scène et Valérie Bournet, Comédienne au Mucem © Mucem

Philippe Car

Co-founder of the Agence de Voyages Imaginaires and director

“The Mucem is really a voyage, so there’s something that really aligns with the path of the theatre company, the Agence de Voyages Imaginaires (“Imaginary Travels Agency”). It’s sort of like an immense boat that is docked, and when you enter the boat, you take off on a voyage.

For us, performing here means taking the inner journey of a Marseilles native in the world and of a team from Marseilles in the world. It’s a great pleasure for us to be able to share with the entire Mucem team and to accompany people on trips like this.

So we are very happy to perform here. It’s very important to us.”

Philippe Car presented his show, “On the Path of Antigone” « Sur le sentier d’Antigone » on Thursday and Friday, 20 and 21 July 2017, at the Mucem.
Camille-Lacourt © Mucem

Camille Lacourt

European swimming champion

“It’s one of the most gorgeous monuments in Marseille.”


Jean-Pierre Darroussin © Mucem

Jean-Pierre Darroussin


“It’s a success because it reconciles the inner city with the port, which is one of the most beautiful in the world. You can feel that the people of Marseille are proud to have this place, to have a great museum in their city. And this desire to revitalize through modern architecture, to connect the old barracks with this contemporary cube, is a wonderful aspiration. At night, when you enter the port, it’s just beautiful.”

Jean-Pierre Darroussin spoke at the Mucem on 3-4 and 6-8 July 2016 during his “Morning Lectures”« Lectures matinales » for the event Plan B.
Alexis Jenni © Mucem

Alexis Jenni

Natural science teacher and author

“What I do think of the Mucem? Only good things!

The building is a wonder, I place that I never tire of visiting. The latticework, the inner light that feels like a sort of underwater cave: it’s extraordinary. The massive structure is also magnificent when seen from the outside. I like how the Mucem was established in a neighbourhood that was completely abandoned just a few years ago. Oddly enough, you didn’t go to the sea in Marseille. Now that the area has been rebuilt, with access to the Panier, access to Fort Saint-Jean, people walk along it. The museum is an architectural, aesthetic and urban planning success. The architect Rudy Ricciotti works to make his buildings fit into their environment. That’s his philosophy, and it was very successful here, because not only is there a building, there is also a neighbourhood. This adds cohesion to this completely mixed neighbourhood, with pieces by Fernand Pouillon intermingling with ancient architecture. This is Marseille’s wonderful, eclectic side.

Essentially, the Mucem was conceived as an active museum of Mediterranean culture where things happen. We need that. It’s a way of tying France to the Mediterranean, rather than turning our backs on it in fear. A way of coming to terms with France’s Mediterranean front. I have written about the country’s Mediterranean roots and am delighted to see that this is what the museum is trying to stimulate. I have not been to the Mucem very often, even though Lyon isn’t so far away, but I have a fantastic memory of the opening exhibition, The Blue and the Black. One thing is certain: I’ll be back!”

Alexis Jenni spoke at the Mucem on Monday, 12 June 2017, at the round table discussion on the place of war in memories « La place de la guerre dans les mémoires » during the Algeria-France Conference Cycle (“The Voices of Objects”).
Simon Porte Jacquemus © Droits réservés

Simon Porte Jacquemus

Creator and fashion designer

“To me, the Mucem is a square and a circle seen from the sky, so it speaks to me!

I see the museum as representing the new Marseille. There have been a before and after the Mucem. Everyone says it, from the taxi driver to the baker: “Marseille has changed a lot”. And it’s true, you can feel great energy in the city, and I hope to be able to contribute to that at my level.
I dreamed of having a fashion show in Marseille, of parading my “santons” in Marseille. For me, that was very closely linked to the Mucem’s terraces, with that bridge, that seafront, that blue and that white. The idea of watching my creations coming and going, with the sunset as their backdrop, was the obvious choice for me.

For my exhibition at the Mucem, I didn’t want to use the space in a traditional way. I wanted to do it differently, via video: I gave all the videos on my mobile from the past six years to my best friend Marion, who helped me with the exhibition.”

Simon Porte Jacquemus presented his exhibition, “ Jacquemus—Images, Marseille je t’aime ” at the Mucem from 14 May 2017 to 31 July 2017.

Rudy Ricciotti © Mucem

Rudy Ricciotti

Architect of Mucem

“The Mucem is more about territory than architecture, a place that fosters sharing, an open hand, and empathy towards its visitors. A trip through light, through shadow, through the latticework, through the entire Mediterranean.”