LA PROVENCE New life for the Museon Arlaten

After a complete renovation that lasted almost 10 years, this wonderful gem, founded by Frédéric Mistral, poet, writer and diehard advocate of the Occitan language and inaugurated in 1899, today proposes a new “memory” tour of Provencal society. A visit covering five periods tracing the museographical history of the Museon Arlaten and other ethnographic museums.

This beautiful Provencal listed monument, built atop the remains of a UNESCO listed Roman forum dating back to the 1st century offers detailed information and insight into the history, heritage and traditions of Provence and an opportunity to better understand the ties between Arles and the surrounding region and Greco-Roman antiquity thanks to a new approach to the collections on display. 38,000 objects and 15,000 books have been collected since the start of the 19th century, a process initiated by Frédéric Mistral himself.

A series of multimedia installations offer greater insight into the works on view. Worth discovering are the (see-through) dioramas: innovative systems that project life-size scenes of everyday life such as a Christmas vigil held in the rooms of a country house with all the different rituals that accompany it: blessing the Christmas log, a light meal, leaving for midnight mass. The furniture and utensils create a feeling of reality fiction.

Architect Michel Bertreux proposes a new layout for the inner courtyard for visitors to admire the incredible historical and architectural layers of the museum with, at the bottom, the remains of the Roman forum, then the Hôtel Laval-Castellane (15th and 16th century), and the Jesuit College chapel (17th and 18th century) that today houses temporary exhibitions. A wonderful future for this ethnographic museum that has become a “museum of society” and which explores and questions current Provencal society such as bovine activities, the salt marshes, traditional dress and the Queen of Arles