Museums Morocco

Morocco’s national museum of Modern and contemporary art to open next month

Show from the Louvre due to travel to Rabat next year

Rabat's new royal museum

Morocco is due to get its first major national museum since gaining independence from France more than 50 years ago. The Mohammed VI Musée National d’Art Moderne et Contemporaine will open officially on 25 September. Located in the heart of the capital city Rabat, the three-level 22,350 sq. m building will consist of 4,921 sq. m for a permanent collection and 2,558 sq. m for temporary exhibits, conservation laboratories, an auditorium, education centre, a multimedia library and a café. The ministry of culture and the Fonds Hassan II for Economic and Social Development funded the 73m Dh ($9m) building and Abdelazzi Idrissi, an archaeologist and conservator, has been appointed its director. The museum was scheduled to open at the end of May, although many thought the date somewhat optimistic.

Conceived in 1999 and under construction since 2004, the museum has been controversial. The lack of a clear concept or collecting strategy led to fears that the museum would be an “empty gesture to prove that Morocco is not behind the times”, Katarzyna Pieprzak, an associate professor at Williams College and an expert in Moroccan museum studies, told us. “The ministry of culture has always been very cagey about who will run the museum and how the collection will be formed,” she says. But the project gained clout and momentum when the recognised curator Mohamed Rachdi was brought on board in 2011 to develop the museum’s mission and to organise its inaugural show. “My goal is to stage an exhibition that will serve as a model for the museum’s collection and function,” Rachdi said. The first of its kind in Morocco, the show will trace the country’s art history from the beginning of the 20th century to the present.

One of the institution's first big international shows will not feature Modern or contemporary art, however. Next spring “Medieval Morocco”, which opens in the Louvre in October, is due to travel to Morocco’s new national museum in Rabat.

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