The Muséé d’Histoire is located near the old port in the heart of Marseille’s historic and commercial center on the archeological site of the Jardin des Vestiges, which now serves as an open-air section of the museum.
The spectacular architectural and urban transformation was carried out as part of a restructuring program undertaken by Marseille to honor the city as a European Culture Capital this year. It was meant to create a strong link between the city, the museum and its archeological sites.
The new museum project designed by Adeline Rispal is based on two main concepts – Marseille as the oldest city in France and as a port city open to Mediterranean traffic.
Thus the sea is the sort of «Ariadne’s thread» that takes the visitor on a journey that dates back 3,000 years and follows 13 chronological stages, that go from the most ancient prehistoric relics to examples of contemporary urban development. These pieces tell the stories of men and women – famous and non – that have contributed to the history of Marseille.
There are more than 40,000 relics distributed over 3,500 square meters, illustrated and brought to life with the most modern technologies and using the most advanced didactic and communicative methods with the goal of making MHM one of the greatest and most important museums in European history.
After its work with MuCEM and Chateau Borely, Goppion went on to create 85 display cases for the installation at MHM. The project presented quite a challenge because the display cases, many of which are large in size, are truly unique pieces that had to be custom made for the environments where they are located. The large white “island” display cases on the first floor were particularly complex to create.
These are alternated with old boat models, making for a suggestive museum path enriched with relics placed on supports and pedestals, which were also realized by Goppion, displayed in a seemingly disorganized manner to bring to mind the way things were stored in ancient warehouses. Goppion’s display cases, which are made in steel and feature passive microclimatic control systems, once again manage to bring together the highest levels of security and preventive conservation with extreme ease of use and maintenance.