Nîmes’ Musée de la Romanité Part Four: the Medieval World and Memories of Rome

…continued from Part Three

 

The section on the post-Roman Nîmes is also basically an exhibition on Christian art. There are some lovely medieval fragments which show the prosperity of Nîmes in the 1200s – a time when the nearby town of Aigues-Mortes was a prosperous Mediterranean port.  There isn’t an awful lot on show, but what they have is cool.

Sarcophagus of Valbonne, 6th century AD, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Fragment of a sarcophagus showing a scene with Jesus and the Samaritan, end of 4th century AD, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Fragment from a sarcophagus showing Jesus blessing the Canaanites, 350-375 AD, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Tombstones with Visigothic influence, 6th-7th century AD, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Plate, 5th century AD, terracotta, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Combat of monsters, second half of 12th century, possibly by Benedetto Antelami, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France.  Antelami was an Italian sculptor, best known for his work on the Cathedral and the Baptistery of Parma, but he is thought to have been apprenticed in Provence.

Detail of combat of monsters, second half of 12th century, possibly by Benedetto Antelami, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Depiction of the symbol of St Luke, first half of the 12th century, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Atlas, 12th century, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Fragment from a capital showing the Sacrifice of Isaac, 13th century, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Fragment of a frieze showing the Temptation, 12th century, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Fragment of a frieze with the reprimand of Adam and Eve, 12th century, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Detail of a frieze with the reprimand of Adam and Eve, 12th century, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Fragment of a frieze with Cain and Abel, 12th century, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Capital decorated with heads, end of 12th century, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Male head, 11th-12th century, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Female head, 12th century, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Decorated blocks showing Biblical scenes, 14th century, André Vasal du Puy-en-Velay, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France. The artist wasn’t a professional, as is amply demonstrated by his… style.

Detail of the decorated blocks showing Biblical scenes, 14th century, André Vasal du Puy-en-Velay, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Decorated blocks showing St Christopher, 14th century, André Vasal du Puy-en-Velay, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Decorated blocks showing Biblical scenes, 14th century, André Vasal du Puy-en-Velay, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Decorated blocks showing Biblical scenes, 14th century, André Vasal du Puy-en-Velay, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Decorated blocks showing Biblical scenes, 14th century, André Vasal du Puy-en-Velay, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Decorated blocks showing Biblical scenes, 14th century, André Vasal du Puy-en-Velay, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

The final section of the museum looks at the Roman legacy, which highlights a few ancient items but most interestingly includes the cork models of prominent Roman sites made by Auguste Pelet in the 19th century.  Cork is actually a clever material to use for replicas, because it gives them a warmth as well as making details quite easy to make out.

Model of the Maison Carrée, 19th century, Auguste Pelet, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Model of Nimes amphitheatre, 19th century, Auguste Pelet, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Model of the Theatre in Orange, 19th century, Auguste Pelet, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

Askos, 1st BC-1st AD, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France. When he visited Nîmes in 1787, Thomas Jefferson had copies made – two in wood, one in silver – now to be found in his museum in Charlottesville.

Figure of Eros, second half of the 1st century AD, bronze, Musée de la Romanité, Nîmes, France

So In Summary

Well – what can I say?  I loved this museum.  Naturally the objects on display are fascinating, but what I really appreciated was the thoughtful and intelligent curating.  The displays were appealing both to those with and without knowledge of the period, giving just enough information without being too much – when I visited it was wonderful to see how genuinely engaged all the visitors were.  The same balanced attitude can be seen in the selection of objects that are on display.  It just goes to show that when you have money and the chance to start with a fresh slate, you can do great things.

Further Information

There is an entry fee for the museum – there are various, clearly explained, ticketing options detailed on their website.  And guess what – their website is available in English!: www.museedelaromanite.fr

The museum has a space for temporary exhibitions, and when I visited it was a truly excellent one on Gladiators.

The gift shop has the potential to be very good – but when I went it was very French-biased.  There was, for example, no book on the museum in English.  I don’t know if this was just my bad luck, because I couldn’t ask any member of staff because the shop was left completely unmanned for the five minutes I loitered there.  Yes, unmanned.  Incredible.

Having said that I would just like to add that the staff in the museum were really nice and seemed far less bored than many of the people I’ve encountered in French museums.

How To Get There

The museum is located right next to the Arena in Nîmes, and is easy to walk to from the train station.  We didn’t use any transport on the day we went, but if you want to look at the local buses, this is their website (French only): www.tangobus.fr

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