lundi 30 janvier 2006

La Vieille Charité is a beautiful old building in the oldest part of the city, behind the Vieux Port. Everything is Vieux or Vieille here (old, masculine and feminine). It was begun in 1671. It was originally built as a workhouse for rural migrants, and housed widows and orphans. In the middle is a chapel with oval dome. There are three levels with arches. Later it was used as a hospice, then uninhabited. In 1951 it was classified as a historic building and restored. It is now used as an art museum as well as scientific and cultural activities such as the audiovisual national institute, high education in social sciences, CNRS research library, and mediterranean archeology museum.

The first time we went there, it was to see an exhibition "The Provencal Light" and was a collection of paintings from the 18th century, all painted here in Provence. When mom and dad were here we went but it is closed on Mondays. We were able to walk around the building though, and it was neat with no one there and silent. Well, lots of cats like to hang out there.

Yesterday, Alain and I took the Metro to the old part of the city, walked past the mini Arc d'Triomphe and some old Roman wall, and went to the Vieille Charité's new exhibition Sketchs by Artists in Italy. Lots of sketchs as preliminary studies for paintings of figures and landscapes. One was by Michelangelo Anselmi, which I got excited about, but now realize is not the REAL Michelangelo that we all know and love. Then we took the Metro again to the other side of town to visit Alain's mother, who is in the hospital with her hip replaced, then came home and had hot chocolate. A nice day.
The permanent collection is of African, American, Australien, Oceanic, etc. native art. We have not seen it yet. There is a cute little cafe and an interesting bookstore, with books all in French bien sûr about art, sociology, archeology, etc. It is wonderfully cheap to go to, 3 euros for adults, 1.50 for students and could be free for seniors, not sure. That is the nice thing about Marseille museums- they are cheap to go into, change their exhibitions regularly, and are not so big so that you can visit them without spending an entire day. So I guess there are some nice parts about living in a city.

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