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.
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