It was opened in 2013, when Marseille was the european capital of culture. To close just six years of existence, the museum of the basilica of Our Lady of the Guard should close current 2019. “The decision to close should be taken the beginning of may”, explains Frédéric Proal, president of the association of the domain of Notre-Dame de la Garde, which manages the site. “The project is ready, but we must comply with certain procedures,” he continued. In the present case, dismissal procedures and reclassification for the five employees of the museum, according to the online journal Marsactu .

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The closure is a consequence of the attendance very poor in the museum. On average, 8,000 visitors browse its collections each year, so that the organizers expectations of 100,000. A ratio is all the more striking next to the 2 million visitors who come to the chevet of the basilica each year. It is also the most visited monument of Marseille.

“people expect to have free services,” says Frédéric Proal. In France, the visits to religious buildings are the large majority are free, in addition to the visits appendices. This is the case for the example of the crypt of the kings of the basilica of Saint-Denis and the towers of Notre-Dame de Paris. These last were, moreover, 200,000 visitors per year, while the cathedral had in total of 13 million visits are free of charge.

Our Lady of the Guard is particularly known for its ex-votos. The people of Marseille, and in particular the sailors who escaped a shipwreck, offered as a sign of gratitude and devotion to “the Good Mother”, as is dubbed the basilica by the locals. Among these ex-votos, paintings, numerous small plates of marble, as well as scale models of boats. Some are still suspended in the nave of the building. The museum exposes a big number, as well as objects of worship precious, including “clothing, chalices, decorations,” explains Frédéric Proal. According to the president of the association, all objects exhibited will be back in the reserves of the basilica, until better.

800 years of history

The museum was on the heritage left by the 800-year history of the site. A first chapel was built in the Xiii century on the rocky hill of la Garde, which overlooks the mediterranean city. In the midst of the war in Italy, Francis I decides at the beginning of the Sixteenth century to build a fort at the summit, to defend the city. Badly damaged during the Revolution, the chapel was reopened for worship for a short time, before the rise of activity is very important does not require a new building. The current basilica was built from 1853 in a romano-byzantine style, and was consecrated in 1864. The port loses this opportunity to any military function.

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in Addition to the ex-voto of Notre-Dame de la Garde is renowned for its golden mosaics which cover the vaults, the apse and the dome of the transept. “We are going to develop the guided tours of the mosaics, which have already a lot of success,” explains François Proal. A way to say “Good-Mother” does not let down.