Marrakech has a lot to offer, whether you are fascinated by historical architecture, fashion, design or are a real foodie. There is also no shortage of museums in this Moroccan gem. Everyone knows of course the iconic Jardin Majorelle with its bright yellow and majorelle blue colors, which also includes the Musée Pierre Bergé des Arts Berbères. Just next door, you’ll find the world-famous Musée YSL, housed in a beautiful design by the renowned architectural firm Studio KO. This museum is dedicated to the work of iconic French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who fell in love with this wondrous city during the 1970s and considered it an inexhaustible source for his vestimentary aesthetic. But Marrakech has so much more to offer in terms of culture and especially art. VILLAS lists five fascinating museums, galleries and art organizations in and around the Red City that are definitely worth a visit.
Montresso, an artistic Garden of Eden
Located just outside of Marrakech, just a short drive from the medina, this interesting art organization is in the midst of the beautiful Jardin Rouge, a sprawling garden full of intriguing sculptures that also houses several residencies for talented artists. Montresso, which can be visited by appointment, is also the location of several exhibition spaces where one can admire contemporary art by international painters, sculptors and mixed-media artists, who interact with each other, enriching their own artistic vision. Jean-Louis Haguenauer, who founded the organization in 2009, describes this artistic Eden as follows: “In an increasingly specialized world where globalization homogenizes and crushes cultures, it feels like an honor and a message of hope to host multi-talented artists. No matter where we come from, anything is possible when we are passionate, and also feel passion for others.”
MACAAL, contemporary African art at its best
MACAAL stands for the ‘Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden’ and is an independent and non-profit museum that, as its name suggests, is dedicated to promoting contemporary African art. A favorite among local art connoisseurs, this museum gives a stage to the work of emerging artists from African continent. In addition to a permanent collection, interesting exhibitions take place regularly, focusing on art that dialogues with African cultures, African artists and international artists.
Like Montresso, MACAAL also has a residency that is open to visual artists, researchers and curators who can work for several months on projects related to African art. Open Houses and workshops are also regularly organized, where collectors and professionals from the art world can interact with the artists present.
Gallery 127, a temple of contemporary Moroccan photography
For those more interested in photography, the Galerie 127, located in the newer part of the city Gueliz, is highly recommended. This gallery was founded by Nathalie Locatelli, who in a previous life made a career in the luxury sector and was in charge of the architectural concepts of the Cartier boutiques. In 2006, Nathalie changed tack and opened in Marrakech an art gallery dedicated to one of her great passions: photography.
The gallery specializes in contemporary Moroccan works. Galerie 127 has also organized more than a hundred exhibitions in the past featuring photographs by both Moroccan and international artists. The gallery supports young and emerging talents and helps them to develop their artistic vision but also breathes new life into the work of established artists. If you do not have an immediate trip to Marrakech in the agenda, you can also have a look closer to home at the sister gallery in Montreuil, France.
Comptoir des Mines Gallery, between art gallery and museum
The Comptoir des Mines gallery is a hybrid space that is halfway between an art gallery and a museum. This artistic venue saw the light of day in 2016 with the intention of fostering the emerging Moroccan art scene and supporting artists.
The gallery has three separate artistic programs, each housed in its own adjacent location: the Comptoir des Mines gallery itself; Majaz and Hangar. The latter is a large open space with an industrial atmosphere, where monumental works are exhibited. MAJAZ, in turn, is an independent art program that accompanies Moroccan and African artists in the realization of their first exhibition or large-scale project. In each of the buildings one can see different exhibitions throughout the year.
1-54, international art fair dedicated to contemporary African art
The international art fair 1-54, which is the first and only fair to focus on contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora, also sets up in Marrakech every year. 1-54, whose name refers to the fifty-four countries that make up the African continent, also takes place annually in two western world cities – London and New York and organizes a pop-up event in the French capital. This truly international fair is considered by the art world to be one of the most important captains of modern and contemporary African art and is therefore a must for all those interested in the fine arts.