The Orientalist Museum

Just next door to the stunning Riad Star, in the tiny derb to your right (before the mosque), is a brand new museum set inside another ancient Riad.

The Orientalist Museum is fresh on the Marrakech art scene and officially opened in February 2018. The exhibitions on offer here take a closer look at the historical works of non-native artists, who have travelled through or stayed in Morocco.

Set within a beautiful, restored 17th century Saadian Riad; the space itself is a testament to the historical architecture of Morocco. The reception hall of the Riad, is entirely painted with vegetable dyes, and largely preserved to it’s original design. Here you will find a private collection of orientalist paintings, which portray Morocco through the eyes of western artists throughout history. Orientalist paintings in particular, depict specifically “the Middle East”, or the Arab world. This was one of the many branches of learning of the 19th-century academic art and literature of Western Countries, who were taking a common interest in Oriental themes.

In a more modern context, “Orientalist” often refers to the patronising attitudes of Western civilisation towards Middle Eastern, Asian and North African societies.

Arguably, this attitude is depicted in the paintings of the 19th-century Orientalists, who would often exude exoticism in their works. Many Western painters of this era travelling in Maghreb, would make a payment to sex-workers or impoverished natives so that they would pose for their paintings in clothing or situations which were not true to tradition or in a genuine context. These widely published paintings created a somewhat disingenuous picture of the Maghreb and the native people living within it; which fed into a wider Western misunderstanding of culture and practice.

The unique and noteworthy paintings on display at the Orientalist Museum Marrakech, include vibrant and dreamy works from Delacroix to Majorelle. A fascinating insight into a historical Western perspective of the Maghreb, and a wide display of painting techniques which are bound to be inspiring to art-enthusiasts staying in the city.

The museum is brand new right now, and to some extent a work in progress; but the terrace promises to be home to a cafe with fantastic views across the rooftops and to the Atlas mountains. As well as being neighbour to a handsome Mosque which is of similar age to the 17th-century Riad, which can be closely observed from the viewing platform of the two-tiered terrace.

If you are staying at our Riad Star, then the museum is but a stones throw away. The opening hours are from 9am-7pm and entry will cost a small fee of 6 euros. You can also find the museum using our free Marrakech Travel Guide App.