The Striking MuCEM Building in Marseille

When planning my visit to Marseille, I’d seen quite a few photos of the rather striking, square black building approached by a long footbridge that’s home to the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MuCEM). The museum, which is located on the seafront next to Fort Saint-Jean, opened in 2013, the year in which Marseille was a European Capital of Culture.

mucem footbridge

As entry to the museum was included in my Marseille City Pass, it was on my must visit list.

I have to say that I wasn’t that impressed by the displays in MuCEM. It’s like so much effort, thought and money went into the building, that there was no clear focus on the contents. I really don’t think it’s worth the 8 Euro entry fee to visit MuCEM. I suppose that’s partly because I’m used to free entry to state museums in the UK.

In the foyer, there was an installation that looked like someone had dumped a few boxes carrying monitors.

mucem foyer installation

There were a few interesting pieces, of which there are photos below.  I liked what looked like an angel get together.

mucem angels

The merman’s top half was skeletal and  he looked as though he belonged on the set of a horror movie.

mucem merman

The’Knowledge is Power’ piece was eye-catching.

mucem knowledge is power

By comparison, I loved the architecture. It was one of the most beautiful buildings which I’ve ever visited. I thought that the building’s black cladding was ironwork. In fact it’s an ornamental skin of filigree concrete. It creates an amazing effect with the colour of the sea and the sky.

mucem green effect

An external staircase and walkway wind up between the interior glass and steel building and the exterior skin.

mucem between casing and interior building

You can see the metal supports which attach the concrete skin to the building.

mucem casing

You get some great views of the bay as you walk up the building.

mucem looking through casing

Once of the top floor it became more obvious that the skin was concrete as, unlike the sides of the building, the concrete was grey. It almost looked as though you could gingerly walk along MuCEM’s roof to Marseille Cathedral.

mucem looking toward cathedral from the roof

The Mole Cafe is located on the top floor of MuCEM.

mucem mole cafe

It’s free to get onto MuCEM’s roof. You get there along the footbridge from Fort Saint-Jean. There are some loungers and chairs you can sit on to admire the views and there are free toilets. I’d recommend that you spend some time on the roof, and forget about visiting the museum.