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Muséon Arlaten Finally Reopens in Arles it’s a Must-See

Arles Worth the Wait

Eleven years.  That’s how long the Muséon Arlaten has been closed for renovation, but with the input of a leading architectural agency and the fabulous Arlesien designer Christian Lacroix, it certainly has style – see the staircase.

Founded by the poet Frédéric Mistral in 1896, it exhibits costumes, furniture, work tools, objects of worship, illustrating Provençal life in the 19th century.

Museon Arlaten Arles

©Lionel Roux, Cd13 – Coll. Museon Arlaten-musée de Provence

Together with six other young poets, Mistral founded Félibrige, a literary movement to defend and promote Provençal language. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1904, and the money from this prize enabled him to rehouse the Muséon Arlaten. Continue reading here for the original article.

Escalier monumental du Museon Arlaten. Détail fresque Christian Lacroix.

©Rémi-Benali Cd13 Coll. Museon Arlaten musée de Provence

Muséon Arlaten Timeline

Constructed between 1505 and 1515 the Hôtel de Laval-Castellane was the home of Honorat II de Castellane the son of a noble Provencal family. The Jesuits purchased the property in the mid-17th century for a boys school. The religious order added a chapel and another wing to the building. In 1763, when the Jesuits were banished from Provence the municipality assumed control of the building.

Muséon Arlaten Arles

©Christian Rombi, Cd13

During the French Revolution, Hôtel de Laval-Castellane became a temporary prison. Finally, in 1904 Provence’s Nobel Prize winner Frédéric Mistral (poet and author) used the funds from his award to buy the dilapidated building from the municipality. He established Hôtel de Laval-Castellane as the headquarters for Félibrige – the association he cofounded to protect the Provençal language. Many of the museum’s 40,000 pieces are related to Mistral and his work.

Museon Arlaten

©Rémi-Benali Cd13 Coll. Museon Arlaten musée de Provence

When you Visit

The 15th-century mansion – Hôtel de Laval-Castellane – required a complete renovation and restoration. The project cost 22.5 million Euros, and the work included the relocation of an archive of 40,000 objects. Organized by timeline, your first glimpse is a return to 1 AD and the remains of a Roman forum. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the museum walks through time from the Romans to the Arlesians.

Muséon Arlaten Arles © Sébastien Normand, Cd13 - Coll. Museon Arlaten-musée de Provence

©Sébastien Normand, Cd13 – Coll. Museon Arlaten-musée de Provence

Perhaps the most striking feature of the Muséon Arlaten is the central staircase – Le Grand Escalier. This contemporary glass stairwell designed by French architect Michel Bertreux of Tetrarc appears to float over the exhibits and highlight the backdrop by Christian Lacroix. Internationally recognized fashion designer Christian Lacroix was born in Arles. His contribution to the Muséon Arlaten is a stunning multi-level glass panel reflection of the museum’s collection.

Museon Arlaten Arles

©Rémi-Benali Cd13 Coll. Museon Arlaten musée de Provence

Enjoy a virtual visit of the museum by watching this video (in French).

Muséon Arlaten (website)
29 – 31 rue de la République
13200 Arles

Take a tour: In June, July and August, there are guided tours in English on Saturdays at 15h of Muséon Arlaten.

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Lynne Alderson

Lynne Alderson

Aixcentric was set up by Lynne Alderson three years ago as a channel to send out info on events taking place around Aix as well as news, relevant books, the latest films, new shops and of course where to eat locally. Why?

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"It came about out of frustration with the lack of communication in the town. Posters would suddenly go up about an event that week. No prewarning. I had difficulty too in finding information from many of the tourist offices. Things are slowly getting better and there is sometimes information in English. Hopefully by keeping an eagle eye on the local press and talking with contacts in town, I can publicize fun things that people would otherwise miss. It's a ragbag of info that I come across on my travels. I've published nearly 600 posts now and have lots of followers so hopefully, it is fulfilling its role of helping people, residents and visitors alike, get the most of their time in Aix."

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