Tunisian Bardo Museum rekindled, at last, this year. Tunisians often call it the “jewel of Tunisian heritage”. Overall, the institution lies at a 17th-century Beylic mansion in the Le Bardo district, which also houses the national parliament. Thousands of people visited the recently refurbished museum in the months since it reopened in September.
Tunisian Bardo Museum Suffered Great Losses
The latest shutdown of the Bardo occurred around two years ago, upon President Kais Saied’s proclamation to close parliament. The museum and the parliament she the same building. That shutdown was the most recent in a string of them that started back in the 2011 revolution. In 2015, it temporarily closed again after a terrorist incident against the museum.
This attack caused damage to the structure and resulted in the death of at least 25 individuals. In 2020, pandemic lockdowns forced the institution to close once more. At that time, Saied dissolved the Assembly of the Representatives of the People and removed the nation’s prime minister. The museum completed a building repair and reconstruction operation during its most recent shutdown.
This entails moving some of the museum’s most popular items and enlarging the exhibition areas where new pieces will be on display. A new hall of sarcophagi and redesigned exhibits for the Islamic department are among the updates that enhance the way things are presented. Since its founding in 1888, when it was still a French colony, the Bardo Museum endured a sharp decline in visitors.
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The Collection of 40,000 Pieces
In the first week of the museum’s reopening, 2,700 people came, with 900 of those people coming on opening day, according to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in Tunisia. The museum’s director Fatma Naït Yghil said she was “proud of the work carried out” by her team. The grandiose Bardo Museum houses Tunisia’s national archaeological and ethnological assets.
The museum’s collection includes around 40,000 pieces, with the greatest mosaic assortment in the world. Among the highlights are Virgil’s Alcove, depicting the Roman poet with his muses. There is also The Triumph of Neptune depicts the victorious sea deity Neptune riding a chariot. The greatest collection of folios of the “Blue Quran,” which date from the late ninth and early tenth centuries, resides in the Islamic department.
The reopening of the Bardo comes at a time when Tunisia’s cultural offerings are rapidly expanding, including L’Art Rue’s Dream City festival, the Kamel Lazaar Foundation’s Jaou festival (its next edition will be staged in October 2024), and a growing landscape of art spaces, galleries, and residencies.