Artists Inspired by ProvenceInspire: Art & CultureKeith Van Sickle

Discover the Underwater Museum of Marseille

Statues have graced the world for thousands of years, in cathedrals, museums, and sculpture gardens. But now visitors to Marseille will be able to enjoy them in a new location—underwater.

The Underwater Museum of Marseille (Musée Subaquatique de Marseille) recently opened its doors, so to speak, with ten newly-created sculptures near a popular city beach. Admission is free, and guided tours are also available.

The museum’s founder, Antony Lacanaud, was inspired by Mexico’s underwater sculpture garden near Cancun, which opened in 2009. Such sculpture gardens have begun to pop up worldwide, and Marseille’s is one of the first in France, along with two others near Cannes and Corsica.

The statues are made of a type of concrete intended to attract sea life, both flora and fauna, creating a kind of artificial reef. It seems to be working—one starfish took up residence on the statue Sea Urchin just days after it was installed!

The king of the museum is, of course, Poseidon, the god of the seas…

Underwater Museum Poseidon

…while nearby are his friends, the Nereides, or sea nymphs.

Underwater museum nereides

Encouraging contemplation is the serene The Seed and the Sea…

Underwater museum Marseille seed and sea

…while no self-respecting underwater museum would be complete without a big fish.

Underwater museum Marseills fish

The Underwater Museum has artistic and scientific missions and is an excellent site for studying the Mediterranean’s underwater biosphere. It has established partnerships with local schools, using the new attraction to educate students about marine conservation.

The museum is located 100 meters offshore from the city center beach Les Catalans and is ringed by a circle of security buoys to make it easy to find. The sculptures are 5 meters underwater and easily accessible to swimmers (masks recommended).

The museum’s opening has attracted a lot of press, and it was recently featured on the popular French television show Thalassa. Here’s a video preview of the broadcast.

For those looking for a new way to enjoy art on their next visit to Provence, the Underwater Museum of Marseille is not to be missed.

Practical Information

Le Musée Subaquatique de Marseille (MSM) Website (currently in French only)
There are 10 works by 10 artists submerged offshore from Plage des Catalans.

Book guided tours through the museum’s partner Club le Grasm, here.

Image Credits: All credits are shown on the images except for The Seed and The Sea, which came from the museum’s website.

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Keith Van Sickle

Keith Van Sickle

Keith is a lifelong traveler who got his first taste of overseas life during a semester abroad in England. But it was the expat assignment to Switzerland that made him really fall in love with Europe.

After returning to California, he and his wife Val dreamed of living abroad again but couldn’t find another expat gig, so they invented their own. Now they split their time between California and St-Rémy-de-Provence, delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.

Keith is the author of One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both available from Amazon.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.

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