With its ancient roots, Marseille is the perfect city to host the Museum of African, Oceanic and American-Indian Art (Musée d'Arts Africains, Océaniens et Amérindiens). And the Vieille Charité, with its fascinating architecture, is the perfect place to house it.
The Vieille Charité may not look like much from the outside, as it was originally a poorhouse dating back to the late 17th century. But inside, visitors are treated to a massive courtyard with symmetrical rows of beautiful arches, where light plays over the pinkish stone from nearby quarries. At the center of the courtyard is a jewel box of a chapel; all in all, it would be a worthy sightseeing destination even if it didn't house a museum.
Or should it be museums, plural? In addition to the permanent exhibitions of the Museum of African, Oceanic and American-Indian Art, which features striking ethnographic pieces and ancient artifacts, there are several temporary exhibits in other gallery spaces, as well as the Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology (Musée d'Archéologie Méditerranéenne).
The museum and its exhibits provide a wonderful, off-the-beaten path activity that's perfect for the whole family. Note that the site is widely known as the greater Vieille Charité, rather than the specific museum names.
The Museum of African, Oceanic and American-Indian Art (Musée d'Arts Africains, Océaniens et Amérindiens) is located at the Vieille Charité, 2 rue de la Charité, in the 2nd arrondissement. The museum is closed on Mondays, Christmas Day and on the first of January, May and November. Otherwise, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets cost 5 euro for adults and are free for kids under 18. On Sunday mornings, tickets are free until 1 p.m.