TANGIER’S HISTORICAL PRISON TRANSFORMED INTO A MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Tangier has opened its latest attraction, the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is located in a former prison dating back to the 17th century.
The museum was opened to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Morocco’s National Museum Foundation which is supporting 14 museums across the Kingdom.
Morocco’s latest museum is located in the former prison of the Kasbah – Tangier’s historical fortress. Built in the 17th century and part of the Kasbah Palace compound, the prison remained active until the 1970s. Its transformation into a museum is part of a vast project of renovation of Tangier Medina which received close to US$70 million for its transformation.
The new art institution was inaugurated on December 23, 2021 in the presence of the president of Morocco’s National Foundation of Museums (Fondation National des Musées), Mr. Mehdi Qotbi.
“This museum is located in the former Kasbah prison, a place that has been restored and made available to the Foundation, with the support of the Wilaya of the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region and the local authorities, to turn this space of despair (prison) into a place of hope, in this difficult period marked by the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, where the Foundation continues to bring light and art to life in a country of culture, history and heritage,” Mehdi Qotbi told to local media in an interview.
The museum highlights the work of the artists of the “Northern School Movement” and their contribution to artistic creativity in Morocco. The former prison of the Kasbah is then intended to become a living place of encounters, exchanges and sharing. It will present a cultural programme and exhibitions related to the region of Tangier and turn into a popular attraction for foreign travellers.
The inaugural exhibition reflects the cultural melting pot of Tangier. It proposes a reinterpretation of the specific art movements of the region, with works of famous local painters and artists. All the displayed art works come directly from the Fondation Nationale des Musées’ collection as well as from loans from private collectors. The Ecole du Nord brings to visitors all the artistic visions and thoughts that emanate from the region and that have shaped modern and contemporary Moroccan creation.
Tangier is turning into a hub for arts
The contemporary art institution is the third museum to be opened recently by the FNM in Tangier. In April 2021, the FNM inaugurated the Villa Harris Museum, a magnificent neo-moorish villa from the late 19th century turned into a fine arts museum exhibiting both Moroccan and foreign painters from the 19th and 20th century. Another recently refurbished art institution is the Kasbah Museum of Mediterranean Cultures.
This museum is housed in the former sultan’s palace of Dar El Makhzen. Its main highlight is the history of Morocco Northern Region from prehistoric times to the 19th century. A popular attraction is a beautiful Andalusian garden surrounding the palace. Particular highlights are objects and statuary dating from Ancient Rome. The most prestigious exhibited object is the mosaic of Venus from the old town of Volubilis.
Other important art museums include the Fondation Lorin and the Tangier American Legation Museum. Built as a neo-moorish palace, the legation commemorates the historic cultural and diplomatic relations between the United States and the Kingdom of Morocco in beautifully preserved historical rooms.