Museums in Arles, France

The museums of Arles go beyond simply conserving artefacts and artistic works of past generations, to offer visitors multiple approaches to both traditional and contemporary art and ethnography. Arles has three remarkable museums:

The Arles Archaeological Museum

The Arles Archaeological Museum (Musée départemental de l’Arles antique), was inaugurated in 1995, in a modern building erected near the city centre beside the remains of the old Roman circus. The museum is a fine example of contemporary architecture and houses all the collections of archaeological artefacts found in and around Arles. The “romanization” of Gaul is a main theme illustrated by sculptures, mosaics, an exceptional collection of carved sarcophagi, numerous objects of everyday life and realistic scale-models including a view of the 4th-century city of Arles. Open space is designed to allow visitors to move freely following either a chronological or a thematic itinerary. A visit to the museum is crucial to understanding the history of the city, its inhabitants and its monuments. It is a spot that enlightens visits of the major archaeological sites in the city centre, enabling a better comprehension of the evolution of the city. Cultural programs are regularly organized and renewed every six months with activities for all generations. In 2012 the museum renewed its collections and placed on exhibit the most important of the new objects discovered in the Rhone River by archaeological divers, of which the sumptuous bust believed to be a portrait of Caesar, and the marble and gilded bronze statues, are the masterpieces. The collections of the museum are constantly increasing and its reputation expanding. Thus a new wing of 800 m2 was added, inaugurated on October 4, 2013, designed to underline the importance of the Roman port of Arles and commercial exchanges between the Rhone River delta and shores all around the Mediterranean. Arles-Rhone 3, a river barge discovered intact, 31 meters long, dating back to the years 50/60 AD, is the major attraction, surrounded by 480 other objects. The museum has also extended outside its walls with “Hortus”, a park inspired by Roman gardens, with an independent entrance, free, open to the public from 10 AM to 7 PM between April 1 and September 30, from 10 AM to 5:30 PM from October 1 to March 31. The museum renews its cultural programs every six months with a variety of activities.

Presqu’ïle du Cirque Romain – 13200 ARLES
 04 13 31 51 03 –  04 90 18 88 93

The REATTU Museum

The REATTU Museum. The former Grand Priory of the Knights of Malta is today the Fine Arts Museum of the city of Arles : Built at the end of the 15 th century in a magic dialogue with the Rhone River, the Grand Priory of the Knights of Malta owes its current role to Jacques Réattu (1760-1833), a painter from Arles who won the Rome Prize (Grand Prix de Rome) and invested in this building to be his home, his studio and his dreams. The building became a museum in 1868, preserving Reattu’s work and his personal art collection, including the extraordinary portrait of Simon Vouet. The museum opened its space to photography in the 1960s (4000 photos today), and has also received several exceptional gifts. In 1971 Picasso offered 57 drawings, and this donation was completed soon after with two paintings; Pierre Alechinsky gave the museum a large Arlesian canvas and a series of 12 works on paper. The museum has always had a soft spot for sculpture (Germaine Richier, Toni Grand, Bernard Dejonghe…), and in 2008 was created a listening chamber for sound art. It is a true crossroads, a bridge between different artistic disciplines, and by placing regular orders, it is able to offer theme exhibits and renew its collections to give us a new and different look at art.

10 rue du Grand Prieuré – 13200 ARLES
 04 90 49 37 58 –  04 90 49 36 97 –

The ARLATEN Museum

The ARLATEN Museum (MUSEON ARLATEN), The ethnographical museum administered by the Bouches-du-Rhone Department, is housed in the former Laval-Castellane town house, dating back to the 15th century. The museum was created in 1896 by Frédéric Mistral, a Provençal regionalist writer, and is a “place of memories” for Provençal society. It reflects the pride in their identity of the 19 th -century population, and has helped to keep these traditions alive during the following century. This museum is more than 100 years old but is resolutely turned toward the future. Nevertheless time has left its mark on the buildings. So time has come for the Arlaten Museum to get a face-lifting, not only for the building itself, but also in relationship to scientific ethnographical studies (for more information : When the work now being carried out by the Conseil Général des Bouches-du-Rhône is completed, the museum will have received new furnishings adapted to current needs : presenting the public with a space rehabilitated in view of modernizing Mistral’s heritage, but also taking into account the results of ethnographical research and the constitution of new collections and new information currently being undertaken by the museum. The renovation will thus accompany the metamorphosis of the Museon Arlaten, changing from an ethnographical museum inherited from the 19 th century into a true museum of society. It will become : – an indispensable tool for analysing social events and the process of sharing and integrating our collective memory; – a space for preservation of local resources and the memory of current events, in phase with today’s inhabitants of Provence. Until it reopens in 2017, the Museon Arlaten team has moved outside the walls of the building to introduce the “renovated Arlaten Museum”, with programs and activities designed to promote cultural diversity, and also to introduce local traditions to a wider public (to learn more : – Morover, the former SNCF train wheel repair factory (“L’atelier des roues”), has recently been rehabilitated to create the CERCO (Centre d’Etudes, de Restauration et de Conservation des Oeuvres), which has become a center of museum conservation open to the public. A space devoted to study, treatment and preservation, it includes storage rooms, a reading room, conservationrestoration rooms and shops. There is even a room for insecticide treatment by freezing and anoxia (deprivation of oxygen). To learn more :

29-31 rue de la République – 13200 ARLES
 04 90 93 58 11 –  04 90 52 52 44 –

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