MUSEON ARLATEN IS BACK !
Finally!!! Here we are again, in the centre of Arles, the Museon Arlaten, Museum of Provence.... Its extensive renovation, respectful of its Mistralian heritage and more than a century of history, offers a new visitor experience and an almost endless variety of opportunities to intensify your discoveries.
So, you will find the dioramas but also nearly sixty digital devices (videos, texts, readings in Provençal, sounds, games, music, multimedia creations and more). The costumes still feature but the architecture and museography have plenty of surprises in store for you. Modern-day Provence is fully taken into account and today’s designers have magnificently left their mark on this renovation (Monsieur Christian Lacroix, Tetrarc and Michel Bertreux...).
Welcome to this “poet’s museum”, this “museum of living life” designed by Mistral. Welcome to this “memory factory” now a “society museum” and observer of today.
The Museon Arlaten, Museum of Provence is…
... a magical monument
Crossing the threshold at the Museon Arlaten is entering a place shaped by two thousand years of history! A Roman forum, an aristocratic residence in the Middle Ages, a Jesuit College in the 17th and 18th centuries, a prison and debating chamber under the French Revolution, a school again and then a museum, now renovated, the setting for the Museon Arlaten stands as a major witness to the architecture and history of the Arles region from antiquity to the 21st century. Simply open your eyes to observe the many traces left by this long journey through the centuries. Even today, a collection of Roman ruins including columns, a street, pavements and paving is visible in the museum’s courtyard... A welcome development: the elegant Jesuit chapel and its sumptuous retable have been integrated into the museum, fully restored and are once again accessible to the public.
... an inspiring place
In 1906, Frédéric Mistral, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and champion of the Provencal language and culture, moved the collections of his first “Museon Arlaten” (Museum of Arles) into the current buildings. They opened during a major three-day festival in 1909. Mistral’s aim was to protect and pass on the customs, costumes and traditions endangered by the new civilisation brought about by the industrial revolution. Rural and romanticised, the Mistral vision of Provence and the Arles region is rooted in Greco-Roman antiquity. However the museum, particularly with its dioramas, used the most modern procedures of the time for its staging, inspired by the world exhibitions of the late 19th century and the Trocadéro museum of ethnography. Between memory and imagination, ethnographic science and evocative presentations, a heritage steeped in history and a regionalist inspiration, the Museon Arlaten, “Pantheon of Provence”, was indeed, according to its founding father, a “poet’s museum”.
... a society museum
Today, more than one hundred and twenty years after its creation, the Museon Arlaten has been transformed. Although he was careful to reproduce the entire history and true ambience of the old ethnographic museum well-known by Provençals, the new Museon, redesigned by the architect Michel Bertreux (Tetrarc), examines modern-day Provence and the traditions it has inherited. How did these traditions appear? How can they be interpreted? What uses are made of them today? How are the memories expressed? How are the identities shown? How are new ways of life created in Provence? In line with society, the Museon Arlaten questions its environment and its audience, drawing on ethnographic field surveys. And as in Mistral’s time, it uses the technologies of its era (digital, video, sound, image, interactivity...) to give a new depth and new perspective to the 3,600 objects presented.
... fascinating collections
The Museon Arlaten’s ethnographic collections bring together 40,000 objects, 15,000 books, 42,000 images, 1,000 periodicals, 60 linear metres of private archives... An emotional reflection of Provençal society, most of them came from collections among inhabitants. Started by Frédéric Mistral in the late 19th century, there have been constant additions to these collections ever since. In recent years, in line with surveys on the industrial world, particularly railway workers, the bullfighting culture, the wedding rituals especially of gypsies, the world of the costume, the election of the queens of Arles and the floods of 2003. The history of the collections and their origins, closely linked to the populations, create an unwavering connection between the museum and its region. From costumes to paintings, arts and crafts to the object sculpted by a herdsman, from the advertising poster to the gigantic Tarasque, there is no lack of diversity, through time, space, attitudes and lifestyles. The art of presenting the collections also generates its own collection; the museum preserves and presents rare hundred-year-old dioramas and mannequins, display cases from all eras, miniature models... Thanks to the Museon Arlaten, you will also discover the art... of creating museums.
Drawing on its wealth of stocks (not everything can be presented at the same time!), using the expertise of specialists and featuring a new museography, the 21st century Museon has never been better equipped to maintain, restore and “give voice” to its collections.