I have recently returned from another trip to Marrakech in Morocco. As you will know by now it is a favourite place of mine to travel too, due to numerous past posts on the ‘Red City’. I regularly visit for many reasons, the short flight time of just over 3 hours, the amazing year round weather, the food and all this Moroccan city has to offer. Mainly because I can’t explain how but Marrakech stole a piece of my heart on my very first trip in June 2012, since then I have made yearly trips sometimes twice a year. Not always for a long stay, maybe just 4 or 5 days, but every time I leave I am drawn back again. The great thing about it is there is always somewhere new to try or see and I learn much more each time I visit.
This blog is about finding new places to see, whilst exploring the Old Medina in Marrakech I came across two museums that I think visitors of this city should see. Firstly, Maison De La Photographie De Marrakech and the Musee De Mouassine, both aren’t hard to find and are pretty near each other. If you visit them both you get a reduced entry fee on one of them too!
Maison De La Photographie De Marrakech, also known as the House of Photography in Marrakech, is a small museum set in a beautifully modern home, similar to a Riad style where there is three floors including the roof terrace. The Maison de la Photographie of Marrakech is a private foundation that was founded by Hamid Mergani and Patrick Manac’h in 2009 with this primary aim in mind.
“Our first will is to exhibit the exceptional diversity of Morocco as it was seen by those who visited it, anonymous travelers or famous photographers, since 1870 to 1960. An invitation to a better knowledge of Morocco.The Maison de la Photographie is, first of all, an Archive, supporting the concept of History of Ideas in Morocco. The first and main adventure was to build that archive.”
It showcases a permanent collection of photographs from 1870 to the 1950’s of Morocco as well as rotating exhibitions, currently it is the “Maroc, terre de lumiere” meaning Morocco, land of light exhibit. Especially interesting are the pictures of Jemaa el Fna square and the souks back then. As you try to imagine what it must have been like, but to see the pictures for your own eyes is fabulous. Along with the photographs that are stylishly hung around the museum, there are also Journals, maps, postcards, prints and some documentary films to watch to gain a greater understanding of Morocco at the time and the country itself. The museum also supports educational activities in the Moroccan High Atlas.
There is a cafeteria along with a roof terrace to enjoy a mint tea or some food that has amazing views of the city and it’s rooftops. A small gift shop stands at the entrance, where I bought some postcards and prints to frame at home. Maison De La Photographie is open everyday from 9.30 am till 7 pm and is located at 46 Rue Ahal Fes in the Old Medina, not far from the Ben Youssef Medersa. The entry fee is 40 dhs for an adult and under 12’s go free and I can’t stress enough how a visit is a must, I am just surprised it took me so long to come here!
The Musee De Mouassine was recommended to me whilst visiting the Maison De La Photographie museum, I was offered a discounted rate of entry to see both. This museum is located in the Old Medina also at 4 Derb El Hammam near the Mouassine Mosque and is open everyday 9.30 am till 7 pm with an entry fee of 30 dhs.
Musee De Mouassine known as “Un tresor cache de la medina”, a hidden gem of the medina. Is installed in a Riad, which is another name for a Moroccan house or home, from the 17-18th centuries and is located in the urban complex of the Mouassine Mosque. In the main part or ‘heart’ of the museum, is the Douiria, otherwise known as an apartment, it expresses a real assortment of colours.
“The purchase of the douiria, inhabited by a carpenter and his family, was made in 2012. A slow and patient restoration, from 2012 to 2014, then began. This restoration is a private initiative. For the restoration, we have chosen three principles:Traditional techniques, an old know-how and traditional materials”
This museum is dedicated to the arts of Morocco, such as architecture, music, decorative arts, textiles, documentary films and visual arts. You can wander through the museum into different rooms and levels, it is an architects dream! When you reach the rooftop you can get a great view of the area and Marrakech from above.
Currently the themed exhibit to see is ‘Marrakech 1000 Years of History’, the purpose of this exhibition is a “Walk through time, Marrakech is the work of the dynasties and the monuments testify to a millennium of glorious history”. Through collecting iconographic documents on Marrakech the museum believes you can better understand, “the treasures of the city”. They chose a chronological order illustrated by the architectural treasures that reveal Marrakech.
The photographs presented are mainly from the archives of the House of Photography of Marrakech and Museum of Mouassine.
Musee De Mouassine is a great place to learn more about Moroccan history and their own heritage as the area that surrounds the museum and mosque is known for its historical prominence, the buildings and architecture date back to the Saadian times. Definitely worth a look.
After visiting both museums I felt I had learnt a lot more about Marrakech and Morocco than I knew beforehand and it was a pleasure to visit them. If you are going to Marrakech or thinking about planning a trip make sure to include these two places! I am already planning another short trip for next year…