Architects:   Rudy Ricciotty architecte, Bandol
Exhibition Designer:   Studio Adeline Rispal, Paris
Client:   O.P.P.I.C. Département Opérationnel A
Occupant:   Musée des civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée
Completion:   2013
Project size:   2,000 sqm
Exhibition budget:   5,6 million euros
Lighting budget:   0,5 million euros
Photos:   Studio Adeline Rispal photo Luc Boegly 4-9
Sabine Lacombe 1-2

Stephanie Grosse-Brockhoff 3


Diaphanous Spatial Fabric– The Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM)

On the occasion of the city's appointment to Europe's Cultural Capital 2013 Marseille has extended its cultural programme by a number of prominent museum buildings. Picturesquely located on pier J4 and connected to Fort St. Jean through a slender foot bridge, the MuCEM resides directly on the Mediterranean shore. It is not only by virtue of its particular location that the Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée, built by Rudy Ricciotti, is possibly the most charismatic recent addition to Marseille's architectural environment. The diaphanous glass volume is enshrouded by a mashrabiya-like concrete mesh structure that bears great resemblance with water ripples, at closer inspection. The ground floor of the 4-storey building houses the MuCEM's vast collection that has been fashioned into a permanent exhibition. Studio Adeline Rispal has provided the exposition with a sensitive and fleet-footed museography setting.

Organised in 4 so-called singularities the exhibition addresses the topics agriculture, the three monotheistic religions, citizenship and human rights as well as seafaring. Architecturally, the extensive space is determined by the strongly pronounced girders of the pre-fabricated concrete ceiling and by a continuous view of the diaphanous façade structure. The exhibition design envisages a careful visitor guiding system largely engendered through furniture and stores. Simultaneously, the spatial expanse remains uncompromised in the visitor's appreciation.

The scenography equipment and the lighting alike connect to the ceiling coves, unfolding between the ceiling's concrete girders. These moulded grooves house arching brackets that support both, rails for stores or artwork and lighting elements. Track projectors connect directly to these arching brackets by fashion of a modified luminaire base. These projectors can be positioned freely on every arch and their location can be fully adapted to their orientation and beam angle. The electrical connection with the concealed 3-phase-track occurs through a modified adapter with extended cable. The LED projectors can be focused between 10° and 65° half-beam angle and are dimmable through an on-board rheostat. Barn doors at the projector's orifice allow for a luminous orchestration of specific exhibits and limit light scallops on the girder flanks.

Thus, a large part of the exhibits is illuminated from the ceiling. Yet, individual show cases are fitted with additional lighting features. Table show cases, for example, contain prominent exhibits that are treated with light from the flanks of the encasing. For this purpose, LED light strips have been concealed behind a frosted glass cover. Similarly, the busts in the "Mur des Portraits" (portrait wall) are illuminated by lateral concealed LED lines.

Amphorae and bowls are not exclusively lit from above. In order to allow for a full appreciation of the ceramics' rich decoration the platforms themselves are luminous. A "Cabinet des Curiosités" (cabinet of curiosities) contains collectibles from all over the world – textiles, spices, stuffed exotic animals and more. Here, hidden linear light fixtures and LED mini-projectors are treating the exhibits individually. The small projectors are fitted with a magnetic base and flexibly connect to a bespoke metal housing. The housing is recessed flush in a groove at the show case's top.

As a result, a calm spatial orchestration unfolds. It diligently emphasizes a large variety of different exhibits, yet retains and enhances the diaphanous spatial fabric.

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.