Visiting Bardo Museum tunisia etwinning project

The Tunisia Museum

The national Bardo Museum is a jewel of Tunisian heritage. It is housed in an old Beylic palace dating back to the XIXth Century. It retraces, through its collections, a big part of Tunisia’s history (from Prehistory to the contemporary epoch) and contains the largest collection of mosaics in the world including the famous mosaic representing Virgil, the poet.

The visitor may discover there an abundant collection of Punic jewels as well as a gallery of Roman sarcophaguses and Christian baptisteries.

One of the high points of the visit is a Roman ship’s cargo wrecked off the coast of Cape Africa, facing the town of Mahdia, with its Hellenistic Greek art master pieces: bronze pieces, marble sculptures, and furniture. This was the result of underwater excavations undertaken during the first part of the XXth Century with the participation of Commander Cousteau.

The great Tunisian sites classified by the UNESCO as part of the world virtual pantheon of the humanity are:

The city of Carthage

Ancient Dougga of western Tunisia

El Djem’s spectacular Coliseum

The refined Arab Medinas of Kairouan, Tunis, and Sousse

Each one of these remarkable cities is present in the Bardo Museum’s collections

The museum also includes touching testimonies of the creativity of each of the Tunisian regions since 40,000 years; namely the enigmatic Hermaion of El Guettar (south of Gafsa) which is the first temple edified by man to honour the sky’s supreme force.

Museum Mission

In general, a museum’s policy consists not only in preserving heritage, but also in trying to enrich and spread it within the framework of a cultural policy that is fair and adapted to the needs and demands. Thus, the museal institution’s major mission has always been to preserve collections subject to public interest within a public service, or at least public utility, mission. The main objective is to ensure accessibility for the larger public and the equal access of everybody to education and culture. As A. Malraux put it in his The Imaginary Museum (Le Musée Imaginaire), "the role of museums in our relationship with the works of art is so important that we hardly think that it does not exist; that it has never existed."

Thus, the objective of the redevelopment project of the Bardo Museum, a national museum which is the first in the country to exist for more than a century, is to make of it a major pole for a high quality cultural development. With the expansion of its premises, the redeployment of its collections, their suitable, attractive, and didactic exposure the visitor will be able to better appreciate, understand, and finally appropriate the exposed pieces of art to himself regardless of his intellectual level or age.

The expected role of the educational services and workshops within the programme of the new Bardo Museum will be decisive. It will lead to:

A direct rapport with works (shows, permanent and temporary exhibitions)

An analytic approach to works (conferences, political debates, meetings with the scientific and technical staff)

An effective practice through workshops and seminars


The perennial myth of Carthage and its Phoenician founder Alyssa is still seducing visitors of Tunisia. This city-republic of explorers, navigators, and bold merchants is known for its purple boats which used to trace maritime routes towards Eastern shores, Greece, ancient Gaul, and the soon-to-be-conquered Hispania.

The prodigious epic of Hanno, who was a pioneer of African coasts, and Himilicon, who made it for the tin mines of the British islands, is still present in history books.

Carthage which was defeated three times by Rome and was resuscitated by Julius Caesar and Augustus to become the prosperous African province was a real Roman attic. It was also a blessed source of pure olive oil which illuminated the Mediterranean city for centuries. It thus made fortunes which were wisely converted into aqueducts, viaducts, theatres, temples, and rich residences embellished with eternal mosaics.

During all these Latin centuries, the first celestial messages that came from Palestine with the first Jewish migration then with the Fathers of the Christian church made of the African province an ardent home where St Cyprian and St Augustine would found the Universal Catholic Church.

This soil where the grand book of history reversals has always been written, witnessed the decline then the collapse of a great Roman culture. It also underwent the unexpected domination of the Germanic Vandal tribes who not only seized Carthage but also Rome. Only the resurgence of Constantinople’s Byzantine power in the VIth Century brought this episode to an end to leave the place for a long reign of Byzantine quarrels.

Cavaliers of Islam who cropped up in the Arabian vacuum in the VIIth Century consecrated these sequences of history and culture for the foundation of the sacred city of Kairouan which would spread Islam to Andalusia.

The majestic architecture of rosaries in the Arabic towns of the Maghreb, the grand mosques-universities of Tunis with the thousand-year old Zitouna, that of Fez’s Qaraouyynes and Marrakech’s Koutoubia which were relayed by Seville’s Giralda and Alcazar, Cordoba’s Merquita, and Granada’s Al Hambra would constitute a culminating point of the triumph of spirit and art in the common history of the southern and northern shores of the Mediterranean.

This immense work was served by an uninterrupted chain of academic libraries where the legislator Sahnoun and doctor Ibn Al-Jazzar from Kairouan, Ibn Rochd (Averroes) from Cordoba, and later Ibn Khaldoun from Tunis would provide Europe with incandescent tools for its Renaissance.

The visit to the new Bardo Museum will allow distant visitors to discover, through the new departments, and undertake a journey back in time through the magnificent works of mosaicists, sculptors, illuminators, and calligraphers who are most of the time anonymous authors of master pieces that are offered to the curious and later amazed looks of the millions of visitors who are expected in this real, clear, and bewitching labyrinth.

The richness of the Bardo collections implies the choice of a department or a limited series of outstanding works. The visit is thus partial but it opens an exquisite perspective for repetitive visits and discoveries that will always be unexpected.

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Created with images by Cea. - "Ulisses mosaic at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, Tunisia. 2nd century AD." • larrywkoester - "Bardo National Museum - Tunisia-" • larrywkoester - "Bardo Museum - Carthage room (2)" • larrywkoester - "Bardo Museum - former palace of the husaynid beys (provincial governors) (4)" • elainne_dickinson - "Bardo museum" • elainne_dickinson - "Bardo museum" • elainne_dickinson - "Bardo museum" • elainne_dickinson - "Bardo museum" • Ndecam - "Bardo National Museum" • larrywkoester - "Bardo Museum - Isis statue from Carthage" • Verity Cridland - "Bardo Museum" • larrywkoester - "Bardo Museum - Phoenician mask" • ahisgett - "Neptune Mosaic" • Verity Cridland - "Bardo Museum" • Verity Cridland - "Bardo Museum" • Verity Cridland - "Bardo Museum" • Verity Cridland - "Bardo Museum" • Verity Cridland - "Bardo Museum" • Verity Cridland - "Bardo Museum" • Verity Cridland - "Bardo Museum" • Verity Cridland - "Bardo Museum" • elainne_dickinson - "Bardo museum" • elainne_dickinson - "Bardo museum" • Verity Cridland - "Bardo Museum" • Verity Cridland - "Bardo Museum" • Verity Cridland - "Bardo Museum"

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