2 February 2024

View of the exhibition

The atmosphere is festive and relieved at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) in Marseille (8e), which finally reopened its doors this Thursday, April 7 in the evening, after renovation work that went into extra time. That is four years of artistic vagueness for this museum closed in April 2019, whose reopening schedule was disrupted by the uncertainty of the municipal elections of 2020, which saw the arrival of the left in power, after twenty-five years of mandate of Jean-Claude Gaudin (LR), by the detection of asbestos in the building, by the health crisis, then by chain delays.

Is it a rebirth for this eccentric museum in the south of the city, which has been gradually neglected and eclipsed by the success of the MuCEM, a national museum which emerged on the occasion of Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture , advantageously placed on a quay of the Old Port? This reunion sends, in any case, a positive signal, with the rather spectacular transformation of the building.

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“It is a model of modest renovation”, comments Xavier Rey, current director of the National Museum of Modern Art-Centre Pompidou, who believed in the survival of the place and defended its redevelopment project, he who had been appointed director of the Museums of Marseille, in 2017, with the mission to close it and find a new case for it. For a tight budget of 5 million euros of work, we can only welcome the facelift carried out by the agency Bureau Architecture Méditerranée (BAM).

Cubic and with a shed architecture (hangar type), the MAC building has the singularity of not being signed: it is an anonymous construction, unearthed in the early 1990s when it was abandoned, either some 3,000 square meters erected by a wealthy German doctor and collector on municipal land. Now raised, the reception hall, all in transparency, crossing towards the sculpture garden and equipped with a metal awning elegantly pierced by plane trees, welcomes visitors by covering the building with a rooftop with panoramic view, accessible by a wide exterior ramp. The interior spaces have returned to their skeleton, stripped of as many partitions as possible, with an original white marble floor full of perspectives and zenithal light.

Iconic masterpieces

A temporary aerial exhibition for the general public by Paola Pivi, entitled “It’s not my job, it’s your job/Ce n’est pas mon travail, c’est votre travail”, welcomes you from the hall with an installation of bicycle wheels all styles and formats and enhanced with bird feathers of all stripes, whirling in the air, dreamlike images of soft mobility. The visions of the Italian artist summon the globalized world and its environmental imbalances with this poetic and paradoxically playful approach that characterizes her. A new work, Free Landscape (2023), offers an immersive suspended journey like a giant wave, made of denim through the spaces, and we find, among its Marseille selection, its strange polar bears with coats of colored feathers and playful attitudes.

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